Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5763 - July 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Top IDF officer: Hamas Rearming
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Hamas is utilizing the hudna cease-fire to build over 1000 Kassam rockets, a senior IDF officer told reporters on Monday. As a result, some analysts say, the next phase in the conflict may be very intense.

The raw materials are smuggled through the tunnels underneath Rafah, where the Egyptian border is separated from Palestinian Gaza by a narrow strip patrolled by the IDF. From there, the materials are driven northward to Khan Yunis or to Gaza City.

It there, said the senior officer, that Hamas is working on a new version of the Kassam that could reach "15 or up to 20km in range," putting cities like Ashkelon and Netivot within target range.

The tunnels server primarily to smuggle contraband goods which can be sold at a handsome profit in Gaza. Some of the more lucrative tunnels whose "engineers" do quite well from the profits from material smuggled under the Egyptian-Gaza border, are believed to be 80 meters underground. At that depth it is very hard to detect them even using the sophisticated technology that the IDF employs.

While the PA security have not disarmed the terrorist groups, the IDF says that the PA has exerted a concerted effort to reduce the level of incitement against Israel and to prevent terror attacks. Nonetheless, the IDF says that it has registered 85 attacks against Israel in the Gaza Strip since the declaration of the cease-fire 20 days ago. This is a drop of more than half in the rate that has prevailed over the past three years.

The Palestinians have managed to reduce the number of attacks to an all-intifadah low, however, they have "not gotten to the root of the problem," which is the disarmament of Palestinian militants, said the senior officer.

The IDF feeds the PA intelligence tips from time to time hoping that it will act on them. "That they dealt with [inciting] graffiti and are getting traffic cops back on the streets is nice but the main problem for us is not traffic but weapons smuggling," he said.

Negotiation has so far served as the chief Palestinian modus operandi for preventing attacks, he said. Sometimes "they arrest a militant under the most comfortable conditions possible and release him," within hours. The longest a Palestinian militant has been held, according to the senior source is four days.

Nevertheless, the perception among IDF ranks that the Palestinian Authority possess the force to disarm and arrest Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists is also giving way to doubt about PA strength.

When asked whether the balance of weapons in the Gaza Strip is tilted towards the rejectionist groups or the PA, a Brigade commander in Gaza hesitated for a moment, and then noted that especially following the hudna and the accelerated pace of weapons smuggling into Gaza, the rejectionist groups likely have the upper hand.

"There have been so many arms smuggled in that we can tell by the sheer number that we capture that there must be much more that we don't [capture]," he said.

Security sources have for months been publicly saying that the PA boasts a force of 20,000 armed security personnel in Gaza alone. "They are armed, have enough jeeps, cars, enough ammunition, and enough courts to arrest those men and take them to court," said one officer.

But in private the IDF, gives figures much closer to those that Palestinian security chiefs themselves give: or about 12,000, sometimes less. Many of these men are not nearly as motivated as their Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al Aqsa counterparts.

The IDF officer, who works intimately with his Palestinian counterparts in the field, admitted that in an all out battle that would likely devolve into a civil war, the rejectionist groups could defeat the PA.

"The PA is aware of this," he said, "and so the challenge for the Palestinians is to disarm the militant groups peacefully. The PA believes that it can only solve [the issue of the rejectionist groups] by including Hamas in [a future] government."

Standing at a site once considered the most notorious checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, the IDF officer, said of the steady flow of traffic through the Katif junction. "That is a great example of how to implement separation.

"Gaza is a particularly good place to observe separation at work. It has a clearly demarcated and operational security fence. This backs efforts made by both sides to prevent terrorists from leaving the Strip," he said.

He noted that settlers travel on a bridge which bypasses the road, reducing to almost zero the settler-Palestinian friction, one of the Gaza Division's main goals.

While the threat is certainly grave, no serious observer could have failed to anticipate that Hamas would use the quiet to rearm and reorganize. The assessment of the politicians was apparently that they could not effectively resist the pressure from US President Bush, and the hope that the quiet will gather its own momentum and be extended. It is of course much too early to see if this will happen or not. It should be recalled that the hudna was declared by the Palestinians among themselves and involved no transaction with Israel.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.