Hamas may control the Gaza strip, but it doesn't operate alone

Over twenty explosive devices were placed near the Gaza border fence during the last two months. Two members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed, and it is expected to take action.

By TAL LEV RAM/MAARIV
May 27, 2018 23:43
2 minute read.
Hamas may control the Gaza strip, but it doesn't operate alone

Israeli soldiers, on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip, watch Palestinian protesters in Gaza May 14, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

 
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Explosive devices placed near the Gaza border security fence, IDF tanks opening fire on positions held by terrorist groups, and at least two dead terrorists as a result of Israeli army actions have become the new norm as of late on the Israeli-Gaza border.

Over the last few months, most of the public's attention has been devoted to the weekly Friday clashes between Gazan protesters engaged in the March of Return and the IDF. Alongside these events, however, the dozens of explosives thrown at IDF forces during weekends, as well as 'kite terrorism' and its resultant torched fields, must also be taken into account. The placement of explosive devices near the border fence in attempts to injure IDF troops has also sharply increased in the last two months.

After the last few years during which, on a monthly average, only one or two explosives were thrown at IDF soldiers, and in some months no attempts were made to attack troops at all, in the last two months the number has risen to over twenty explosives, signaling that the period of relative calm is behind us.

However, despite the sharp increase in the use of explosive devices, not a single rocket has been fired at Israel in recent months. This points to the complete control Hamas has on the Palestinian street and to its ability to enforce its decisions on other terrorist groups at large in the Gaza strip. This includes the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is regarded as the second ranking group in terms of military strength in the area after Hamas.

Based on this data, it is possible to note that Hamas is currently allowing its forces and other organizations to engage in acts of terror against IDF troops but not to fire rockets at Israel, limiting the activity to military targets only.

This enforced rule, which is being kept only because of Hamas's internal interests, will be tested soon, as up until now when members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed, the group responded by firing rockets toward Israel. This means Israeli security forces will be on high alert in the next few days in expectation of such a response.

It is worthwhile to notice that this is the first time Palestinian Islamic Jihad has maintained a post on the border fence, an activity Hamas reserved only to itself in the past. In addition, a terror tunnel discovered by Israeli security forces half a year ago was dug and maintained by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Such tunnels, too, point to Hamas tolerance toward actions taken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and explain why the IDF chose to attack a manned position, which led to terrorists being killed, unlike in previous IDF operations.

The terrorists who attempted to place the explosive device on Sunday tried to conceal it as a large cutting tool, pretending they were attempting to cut the fence. This time, the IDF used lessons learned from a previous case when a kite containing explosive materials was placed on the border fence, and used a robot to neutralize the explosive.

As the March of Return events are expected to continue in the next few weeks, Israel expects more attacks using explosives to be attempted.

Translated by Hagay Hacohen.

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