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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Less than a month after the end of Operation Cast Lead, which was launched in order to stop Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel, two senior security officials on Sunday lamented Egypt's failure to completely prevent Hamas from restocking its missile supply by properly cracking down on the underground smuggling routes.
"We see a great effort on the part of Hamas in trying to re-dig its tunnels, and since the ceasefire, we've identified a number of arms shipments," Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told cabinet ministers during their weekly meeting.
"The Egyptians are acting in a way which suggests that they are combating smuggling," he continued. "This is a positive trend, but their actions are relatively slow."
In negotiations which followed Israel's unilateral ceasefire, which was declared last month, officials in Jerusalem have insisted that any long-term truce include provisions to prevent the Islamic group from rearming. The Egyptians' role in ensuring the stability of a new, long-term cease-fire is vital, as they patrol one side of the Philedelphi Corridor, under which are a number of Hamas smuggling tunnels.
Earlier in the cabinet meeting, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said that despite the achievements of the three-week IDF operation, Hamas was still a dangerous force, and was still looking to rearm.
"When Hamas speaks about rehabilitating Gaza, they are talking about rehabilitating their supply of rockets which will be fired into Israel," he said.
"Following the successful IDF operation, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, which includes rockets, is its Achilles Heel," Dichter continued. "The Egyptian action is too slow. The government must define for the army an appropriate policy, in order to create a deterrence against Hamas. We must not wait for a rocket to land in Yavne."
Over the weekend, a Grad-type rocket landed in the Gan Yavne area. This attack followed a week of sporadic rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel, which was often followed by a limited Israeli military response.
Speaking about the Palestinian ceasefire violations, the Shin Bet chief said that not all the rockets have necessarily been fired by Hamas terrorists.
"The rocket fire is being perpetrated by rebellious elements," Diskin said. "We see all sorts of factions that are trying to commit all sorts of terror attacks against Israel."