|Palestinians cross the Israeli army’s Hawara Checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus yesterday. Israeli officials from the Military Intelligence Branch office are warning that Hamas is establishing a mini-army in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Associated Press.|
Israeli Military Intelligence Branch warns that Hamas is establishing a mini-army in the Gaza Strip and that within a year Israel will face dangers and threats which Israel has not yet known.
“Hamas is in contact with elements close to Syria and Iran and is working on operational plans,” IDF Intelligence Research Department Director Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz. reported to the Israeli Knesset Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He added: “If this situation continues, we will have to think about how the theater will look a year from now.”
“Hamas activists are working on operational plans, digging tunnels, constructing blast-proof rooms, and are working with plans from the Hezbollah print-shop,” he said. “This ground infrastructure will enable them to engage in sniping, continuous fire, planting of bombs and other activities, with greater effectiveness.
A year from now the threat will be significantly greater than today, because Hamas is using the current lull to build up its forces.
Brig. Baidatz added that Hamas is interested in continued quiet: “Hamas is deriving benefit from the relaxation itself. It has gained a breathing space which it is using to strengthen itself. Hamas is interested in extension of the calm to Judea and Samaria.”
Brig. Gen. Sami Turjeman, director of the Operations Department at the Israeli Army General Staff, warned: “In a few months’ time we will be faced in the Gaza Strip with a military capability which we have not known up till now, especially in the area of anti-tank rockets. Hamas personnel have been training in a wide range of skills: sniping, explosives, installing blast-proof walls and roofs, and fortifications. What is being set up there is nothing less than a professional fighting force, and what is taking shape is a comprehensive concept with semi-military capabilities which we have not encountered before.”
Jordan And The Palestinians
And there are signs of rapprochement between Jordan and Hamas.
Jordanian Prime Minister Dr. Marouf al-Bakhit on Monday called Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and extended to him an official invitation to visit Jordan – without yet setting a date.
Palestinian Authority Spokesman Dr. Ghazi Hamad said that Haniyeh is expected to go to Amman next week and that PA Chairman Abu Mazen is also expected to attend the meeting. “The prime minister of Jordan sent an official invitation from His Majesty King Abdullah to Prime Minister Haniyeh to visit Jordan and meet with Abu Mazen to discuss recent developments and points of discord,” said Hamad. “Prime Minister Haniyeh accepted the invitation with pleasure. We have begun arrangements to set a date,” he said.
This is an unusual step by Amman in its relations with Hamas, since up until now, Jordan did not allow Hamas members to go to the kingdom and just a month ago prevented Haniyeh from entering the capital of Jordan. The Jordanians took this step after a few months earlier a Hamas terror cell was arrested in Jordan that was planning terror attacks.
©The Bulletin 2006