(photo credit: Courtesy)
The most interesting revelation in the Shin Bet security agency’s Tuesday statement about an arrested and interrogated Hamas operative deals with the ties between the Islamist movement and Iran.
According to the statement, Ibrahim Shahade Sha’ar – accused of terrorist activity – told interrogators that Iran has been transferring money, supplying military equipment and training members of Hamas.
This was already known, but Sha’ar revealed that among the equipment provided was electronic gear to distort frequencies, aimed at destructing communication between drones and their operators, causing them to crash.
His confession enables Israeli intelligence to better understand two important developments which emerged in the last year since the end of the third Gaza war.
First, it will improve Israel’s insights into the depth of the division between the military and political wings of Hamas. Since the last war, the military wing has increased its disobedience to the political echelon.
Second, the results of the interrogation can help Israel better observe the relationship between Iran and Hamas’ military wing. While the political wing of Hamas, particularly the structure led abroad by Khaled Mashaal, is disengaging from Iran and moving in the direction of Saudi Arabia, the military wing is tightening its relations with Iran.
Sha’ar also provided important information about Hamas actions post the 2014 Gaza war. It has enhanced its efforts to rearm, set up special forces, and developed stronger aerial capabilities. It also continues to focus on digging tunnels. Hamas view the tunnels as it did in the past, as a strategic tool in case of a renewed confrontation with Israel, despite the heavy blows it suffered in Operation Protective Edge last year, when 31 of these tunnels leading into Israel were exposed and destroyed.
From all that emerged from the Shin Bet statement, as well as from facts not made public, one can reach an unsurprising conclusion: Hamas’s military wing is continuing to regroup and prepare itself for another confrontation with Israel.
This is despite its political leadership’s preference to instead reach a long-term understanding. One can also assume that the military leadership, led by Muhammad Deif, is not interested in renewing hostilities at this stage. It realizes that it still has a long way to go before it returns to the military and operational capabilities it had before the war.
There is abundant evidence of this attitude. One can see it in the tremendous efforts that both Hamas’s political and military wings are investing in preventing the renegade Salafist group from firing rockets.
Even without questioning the credibility of the information provided by the Shin Bet, one may still wonder how a young fighter, only 21 years old, was exposed to such valuable information.
Perhaps in spite of all of Hamas’s efforts to improve its field security and compartmentalization, it still has much work left to do.