Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally in memory of their seven comrades, who were killed when a tunnel collapsed close to the Gaza Strip's eastern border with Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite the current calm, Hamas and other terrorist entities may attempt to carry out attacks ahead of the upcoming Passover holiday, according to Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) director Nadav Argaman.
“The relative calm that we are experiencing at this time is quite deceiving, it’s misleading and deluding because Hamas and global jihadi infrastructure are working every day in attempting to conduct terrorist attacks in Israeli territory,” he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
“Our goal is to ensure that the holidays are as quiet as possible,” Argaman said.
“We are engaged day and night in thwarting attacks. We have stopped more than 400 potential hazards before they materialized into terrorist attacks.”
Hamas propaganda video
Noting that 16 civilians and one foreign national were killed last year as a result of terrorist attacks, the Shin Bet chief also spoke of the technological and operational developments to the Israeli security apparatus to fight against the continued threat of terrorism.
“We are currently experiencing significant changes in the geostrategic arena that will be relevant for many years to come as a power struggle, the ramifications of which are the result of the impact of the nuclear deal with Iran on terrorism in the Middle East,” he said.
During the committee meeting, Argaman addressed the situation in Gaza and stressed that Hamas is avoiding further escalation due to “lack of optimal readiness,” as well as because they are still recovering from the damage caused to their infrastructure during Operation Protective Edge. However, he noted that if needed Hamas will engage in a battle with Israel, and that it is continuing to amass manpower for that purpose.
Argaman described potential causes that would lead to destabilization of security on the Gaza border: increased activity by the “rebellious factions” among the Salafi-jihadists; accelerated progress in consolidating the military manpower of Hamas; slow recovery after Protective Edge; extreme shortage in water and electricity; and the rising level of unemployment.
Committee chairman Avi Dichter addressed the coalition shake-up during the meeting and its effect on Israel’s foreign policy.
Regarding the situation in the West Bank, Dichter said Israel is now in a good place with its relations with the US and should keep pushing forward in support of its interests, despite the ongoing political dispute.
“I hope that we can keep up the diplomatic momentum that we have and not be dragged into political issues two years before the election,” he said.
“Every [American] administration determines in its first year how its diplomatic policy will be shaped,” Dichter said, implying that holding an early election in Israel will be an obstacle to establishing proper relations with the Trump administration. “I am very disturbed by the idea that our political energies will prevent us from seeing our goals achieved and seizing this opportunity.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.