Hamas Gaza rally marking year to Pillar of Defense 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Senior security sources have noted an increase over the past two weeks in
attacks on Israel from Gaza, leading them to question Hamas’s motivation or
ability to continue to enforce the truce that has been in effect since November
2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense.
Hamas’s ability to enforce the
cease-fire may be in decline because of growing pressure from Egypt, which has
sealed smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai, and because of the Egyptian
military government’s general hostility toward Hamas due to the group’s
affiliations with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The closing of the tunnels
has had a negative impact on Gaza’s economy. As such, the increase in attacks
might be tied to Hamas’s lesser ability to govern Gaza and impose its will on
other terror groups.
The Israeli defense establishment does not believe
that a significant change has occurred in Gaza, but feels strongly that any new
threats have to be nipped in the bud and that Israel needs to broadcast its
unwillingness to tolerate the resumption of large numbers of Gazan terror
Hamas may also be seeking to regain some prestige after the
IDF’s exposure and destruction of its largest attack tunnel to date. In November
of last year, the IDF destroyed the 1.7-kilometer-long tunnel, carrying out an
air strike on the Gazan side of the underground structure that killed three
senior Hamas commanders.
Six soldiers were wounded in a bomb blast while
demolishing the tunnel, but Hamas is likely dissatisfied with the result of this
From Hamas’s perspective, tunnel warfare represents an elite
form of attack against Israel. The group has used it to accomplish feats such as
the 2006 kidnapping of soldier Gilad Schalit. Now the IDF is exposing and
demolishing such structures, putting a dent in Hamas’s plans for future tunnel
Taken all together, these factors mean Hamas is under pressure,
the security sources observed Thursday.
Nevertheless, Hamas isn’t yet
ready to initiate a new round of hostilities; it desires more time, if only to
continue its ambitious domestic rocket-manufacturing industry, according to the
“Hamas doesn’t want to change the picture,” one source said.
“Its main effort is being applied to its force-building program.
attempting to get rockets with various ranges, and investing resources in
studying recent operations. It’s doing these things seriously.”