Security sources see decline in Hamas’s ability to maintain truce

Increase of attacks on Israel from Gaza lead security sources to question Hamas's motivation, ability to enforce cease-fire.

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January 10, 2014 04:22
1 minute read.
Hamas rally in Gaza marking a year to Operation Pillar of Defense, November 14, 2013.

Hamas Gaza rally marking year to Pillar of Defense 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

 
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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.

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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 attacks.

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 exchange.

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 attacks.



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 sources.

“Hamas doesn’t want to change the picture,” one source said. “Its main effort is being applied to its force-building program.

It is attempting to get rockets with various ranges, and investing resources in studying recent operations. It’s doing these things seriously.”

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