Hamas, under siege by Egypt and Israel, has intensified weapons development and production.
Palestinian sources said the Hamas military in the Gaza Strip has diverted resources into arms development and production. They said the decision was prompted by increasing difficulties in smuggling missiles and other weapons from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
“The Egyptian siege has significantly damaged Hamas weapons smuggling tunnels,” a source familiar with Hamas said.
In January 2015, the Egyptian Army oversaw a project to expand a buffer zone along the Gaza border to one kilometer. The sources said the expansion stemmed from Egypt’s determination to end weapons and fighter smuggling to the Gaza Strip.
“With such a large buffer zone, the number of operational tunnels could be reduced to fewer than 10,” the source said. “It also lets the army conduct tests to find tunnels.”
The sources said Hamas was responding to the Egyptian crackdown by trying to acquire weapons from the Mediterranean Sea. They said Hamas as well as the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad were also investing heavily in weapons production lines.
“There are some weapons being produced in Gaza, but medium- and long-range rockets need major components from the outside,” the source said.
The sources said Hamas has been struggling to produce such equipment as body and vehicle armor as well as night-vision devices. They said Hamas and Jihad were seeking alternatives to Egypt for arms smuggling.