Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed Hamas has significantly expanded military training since its cease-fire with Israel.
Hamas sources said the regime has overseen several major live-fire exercises in the Gaza Strip. They said the exercises included those of the new Hamas Army as well as the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad and other militias.
“We now have complete freedom to conduct exercises,” a Hamas commander said.
The commander, who did not want to be identified, said Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been holding frequent live fire exercises since the start of the cease-fire with Israel in June. They said the exercises were taking place at night and early morning in former Jewish communities evacuated by Israel in 2005.
“These are exercises that include [rocket-propelled grenade] fire and meant to prepare us for the next round [with Israel],” the commander said.
Hamas sources said its military wing has sharply increased the number of cadets in training courses. They said a military training course that in early 2008 contained 15 cadets was now attended by 60 fighters.
In July, the sources said, Hamas conducted two major exercises. One of the exercises was marred by an explosion in which six Hamas fighters were injured outside Khan Yunis.
The Islamic regime and its militia allies have also been using the cease-fire to enhance their weapons arsenal. The sources said the cost of missile production, reported at $500 per unit, has risen because of increases in the price of metal and explosives.
Israel has not sought to stop Palestinian military training in the Gaza Strip. Hamas sources said that despite Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles operations, Palestinian fighters were no longer restricted in reconnaissance and training.
“We feel safe,” a senior Hamas operative said. “We are not targeted either from the sea or on the ground. There is complete freedom of movement.”
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008