A MASKED Hamas supporter holds a mock missile at a Gaza celebration after last week’s cease-fire..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian terror group Hamas has offered to share its rocket arsenal with any Arab army willing to use them against Israel, Gaza-based Hamas official Fathi Hammad said Sunday to Al-Aqsa TV.
Hamas has been manufacturing rockets on an industrial scale since it took control of the Gaza Strip, and has fired tens of thousands of projectiles during the past decade.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told a conference in late 2014 that the IDF destroyed 80% of Hamas’s mortars and rockets during Operation Protective Edge, however the group has been restocking ever since, in addition to digging new tunnels under the border with Israel.
While there has always been a large difference in military capabilities between Israel and Hamas, highlighted once again by Israel receiving the first F-35 jets outside the US on Monday
, any Arab states potentially interested in gearing up with the Palestinian group's weaponry for a battle with the IDF could expect to receive more than mortars and the ubiquitous Soviet-designed Katyusha, the WWII rocket still used in conflicts in the Middle East today.
Hamas has in recent years developed its own range of missiles, including significantly upgrading its Qassam rockets and developing the longer-range M-75, which can reach Tel Aviv.
Palestinians launch rockets at Ashkelon region
In addition, the group has received the know-how to develop Iranian Fajrs, which have a reported payload of up to 175kg worth of explosives, and have in recent years acquired Syrian-made M-302s, which were fired at Jerusalem and the Haifa region during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
While the vast majority of Hamas's assorted rockets miss their targets - both military and civilian - Hamas has claimed tens of lives, and hit cities throughout Israel during the three major conflicts since 2007.
Under a blockade since then, Hamas has supplied its rocket-making industry with materials smuggled in
by tunnel, sea, and via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel - where Israeli security services from time to time uncover trucks loaded with banned dual-use items, concealed among other cargo.
However, under strained conditions, Hamas has "developed a touch in military manufacturing which can compete with international manufacturers," claimed Hammad.
Many would disagree, with Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system the undoubted star of the last conflict between the sides.
And unlike Israelis, Gazans have little protection when Hamas rockets start raining down on them. Botched missile launches
from inside the coastal enclave often fail mid-flight, sometimes killing Palestinians.
Discussions over hardware aside, in his attempt to develop a multi-front threat against Israel, it is unclear which Arab armies Hammad thinks may be tempted by the offer to become brothers in arms in the first place.
Egypt, Gaza's only gentile neighbor, has had a stable peace with Israel for decades. More-so, Hamas has alienated itself from Cairo in recent years by aligning with Salafists trying to destabilize President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
While Lebanon is technically at war with Israel - as it has been since 1948 - and has a pro-Iranian president in Michel Aoun, the deeply divided country did not participate in either the 1967 or 1973 wars, and cannot be considered a realistic adversary 43 years later.
Syria, meanwhile, has been ravaged beyond recognition, and its army is outsourcing much of the war to foreign forces. If this were not conclusive enough, Assad's regime downgraded its relations with Hamas after the latter showed support for Sunni rebels earlier in the civil war.
Further afield, and Iraq is similarly consumed with the fight to liberate its own cities from ISIS; Jordan has remained a stable actor in the region for decades; and many of the Gulf states have been increasingly leaning towards increased cooperation with Israel, rather than beating war drums on behalf of the terror group. While Qatar continues to support Hamas, its backing has remained financial and political.
Non-state actor Hezbollah is thought to be Hamas's best chance of providing a partner with which a multi-lateral war against Israel can be fought, however, the Shiite group is fully engaged in the Syrian civil war, and has so far not responded to Israel's latest reported strikes on its forces in Syria. Additionally, Hammad's offer of rearmament would most likely not be tempting at all to a group which itself has an estimated 100,000 missiles.
With the Gaza front remaining quiet for almost all of the past 28 months, if Hamas won't fire its own arsenal, it's unclear who it thinks will.
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