Hamas has entirely rebuilt the military strength it had at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in June, 2014, a senior defense official said Tuesday.
Hebrew-language Channel 2 reported that the terror group has rebuilt tunnels and replaced its stockpile of missiles with locally-made models. In addition, security officials are concerned that the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian government could ease the import of weapons and ammunition to the Gaza Strip via the Rafiah border crossing.
The report followed Palestinian claims that Muhammad a-Zouari, a Tunisian aviation engineer who was assassinated in Tunisia last month, had visited Gaza “several times” in recent years, evading Israel’s land and naval blockade and avoiding detection by Israeli authorities while in the Strip. Hamas blames Israel for the assassination.
Protective Edge was the third protracted military operation against Gaza since Benjamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, and the fourth since Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2006. Hamas fired more than 4,564 rockets and mortar shells at civilian targets in Israel during the conflict, killing six civilians including a four-year-old boy. Sixty-four IDF soldiers died in the ground campaign, and 32 Hamas tunnels were destroyed.
However, the conflict claimed a greater price on the Palestinian side: According to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 5,359 trucks carrying 959 tons of medicine and medical supplies entered the Strip through the Carni, Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings, and that entered through the Kerem Shalom crossing. But Gaza health officials said 2,200 Palestinians died during the war, including more than 1,000 civilians. More than 20,000 homes were destroyed.