A report issued by the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel says the Hamas regime in Gaza has retained its military capability and could be ready for an imminent war with Israel.

The Hamas military, despite sustaining a harsh blow, was not crippled by Israel during the 22-day war, which lasted from Dec. 27, 2008 to Jan. 18, 2009.

The report said hundreds of Hamas soldiers have gone to Iran, Lebanon and Syria for advanced training in light arms, explosives and other military skills.

“It cannot be ruled out that the next round of warfare is closer than ever,” the report said.

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The report, authored by researcher Guy Aviad, said Hamas learned key lessons from Hezbollah’s war with Israel in 2006.

Mr. Aviad wrote in the report, titled “The Hamas Military Wing in the Gaza Strip: Developments, Behavior and Forecast,” Hamas has focused on preparing a surprise for Israel.

“The military wing of Hamas is far from falling apart and has retained sufficient capability, both in terms of munitions and skilled manpower to challenge the Israel Defense Forces in the future,” the report said.

Each Hamas field brigade contains between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers, the report said. The soldiers reportedly have been trained in concealment, anti-tank operations, intelligence and in the use of improvised explosive devices.

During the war with Israel, Hamas concentrated on anti-tank operations, using rocket-propelled grenades and the indigenous Yasin anti-tank missile, named for the terror group’s founder.

The report said Hamas also distributed its Grad-class rockets and other weapons among its units throughout the Gaza Strip in an effort to sustain fire of up to 100 missiles, mortars and rockets into Israel per day.

The rockets also threatened Israel Air Force bases, aircraft and the naval port at Ashdod.

“Hamas’ ability to sustain firepower was from its viewpoint one of its most important achievements during the conflict,” the report said.

The report said Hamas’ military command, led by Ahmed Jabari, survived the war intact.

Mr. Aviad said this has allowed Hamas to renew hostilities against Israel at a moment’s notice. Hamas security chief Salah Abu Sharah, who was assassinated by Israel, was the sole exception.

“One must not doubt the ability of Hamas to learn from the past conflict for the future, to fill its ranks and rearm with means that will improve its capabilities,” the report said.

David Bedein can be reached at dbedein@israelbehindthenews.com


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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.