Report: Hamas Conducts Massive Military Drills in Gaza to Test Readiness for Next War With Israel
While world attention was focused on the terrorist attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, Hamas was conducting major military exercises in Gaza, to test its readiness for another war with Israel, i24 News reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the drills were not covered by members of the media in Gaza, who were barred from the area. But, as AFP reported, loud explosions could be heard emanating from the Palestinian enclave, controlled by Hamas since 2006.
The type and amount of weapons used in the exercises – which reportedly involved 1,000 police, military and emergency services personnel – was not revealed. However, hospitals and schools in the area where they were taking place were placed on alert, according to AFP.
AFP also quoted a Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman saying the exercises did not constitute a “declaration of war.”
Since 2008, Israel has fought Hamas in Gaza three times, the most recent of these was Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, whose aim was to destroy rocket and tunnel infrastructure in the Strip, from which Israel withdrew in 2005.
Hamas has been boasting about rebuilding its terror network for the purpose of kidnapping and killing Israelis. Over the past several weeks, a number of Hamas operatives have been killed in the process, when tunnels in which they were working collapsed. It has not been established whether these collapses were caused by Israel (possibly with assistance from Egypt) or due to heavy rainfall. Both Israel and Egypt have denied involvement.