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 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.

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