Jerusalem – Israeli intelligence sources say Hamas has seized the current relative calm in Gaza to continue smuggling operations and increase its training levels.
Israeli intelligence Director Yuval Diskin, in a briefing to Israeli cabinet ministers, on Sunday, said Hamas has been exploiting the current cease-fire to re-arm. So far, four tons of explosives have been transferred to the Gaza Strip as well as 50 anti-tank rockets, dozens of weapons and raw materials and supplies for rocket production.
Most of the explosives and weapons were transferred through tunnels, Mr. Diskin said, which Hamas has used the truce to take control of, and Egypt has not interdicted them. In the first quarter of 2008, he said, a wave of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip through Sinai was blocked, and a series of severe terror attacks was prevented.
Mr. Diskin, an opponent of the prisoner-exchange deal with Hezbollah, warned “the prisoner exchange deal raises motivation to carry out kidnapping attacks.”
On the question of the nature of the truce with Hamas, the ministers were divided.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said “Israel should respond to violations of the truce with “fire for fire.” Opening the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt would strengthen Hamas.
Israeli officials say any consideration of doing so needs to be done in conjunction with negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces soldier being held captive in Gaza.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the balance in the south was positive, and “people always long for a different situation.” However, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated his dissatisfaction with the situation in the south, saying, “I am afraid that a situation is emerging in the south, which in five years we will ask ourselves how we let it happen.”
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008