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 dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

©The Bulletin 2008

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.