Despite the relative calm in Israel since the end of Operation “Pillar of Defense” ended in November, officials in Israel believe that attempts by Hamas in Gaza to restock its arsenal–heavily depleted during the operation–have been highly effective. According to Israel’s Channel 2, IDF officials believe that Hamas has almost replenished its arsenal to levels seen before an Israeli offensive in November targeted terrorist weapon caches. The officials furthermore believe that this rearmament represents an inevitable confrontation with terrorist organizations in Gaza in the near future.
“Organizations in Gaza are working hard to restock their weapons arsenal through generous assistance from Iran,” a senior officer in the Southern Command told Channel 2 according to a translation.
“Through the tunnels of the Sinai border of Gaza come rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars and everything you can think of. More than that they are trying to get new weapons in what they call the surprise of the next round. We’re talking about anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and long-range rockets.”
But it’s not simply a matter of smuggling as one source said. “Hamas, Jihad and other organizations produce locally made weapons. Also here we are talking about the Iranians mainly through Hezbollah, helping with this production. Gazan industry is working hard and I have to tell the truth, they seem to do the job.”
According to intelligence officials in Gaza, engineers from Hezbollah and Iranian terrorist organizations are present and assist in the production of these weapons.
“This is a very significant threat,” said a source.
There’s also a fear that terrorist are gaining better training because of a demilitarized Sinai, experience fighting in Syria, and their access to training camps in places such as Iran, Sudan and Yemen.
Officials Channel 2 spoke to said that terrorists believe they were successful in their aims during Operation “Pillar of Defense” and have been emboldened. While Hamas especially will not want to embarrass its patrons in Egypt at the moment through incitement of Israel, the organization will only be deterred while it’s “in their best interest.” After that “they will make the first step towards another round of fighting.”