Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that Hamas military forces have begun training almost nightly at a facility in the central Gaza Strip.

The facility, referred to as Battalion 13, is located near the Gaza town of Khan Yunis.

Hamas captured the facility during its June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam, has been conducting live fire exercises nearly every night at Battalion 13. The sources said Hamas troops practice squadron and platoon maneuvers in full battle gear near the Mughazi refugee camp.

“Hamas has accelerated its exercises because of the ceasefire,” a Palestinian source said. “The exercises start at the training ground but often move through residential areas.”

Hamas has been joined by virtually every Palestinian militia along the southern Gaza coast. It has sought to improve coordination between its military and militia allies to counter any potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, expected by 2009.

The training involves between 50 and 100 soldiers each night. Hamas has accelerated recruitment and training as well as tested a range of weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and missiles.

Palestinian militias have been identified as the Iranian- and Saudi-sponsored Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Popular Resistance Committees and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Virtually all of their exercises have taken place in the area of the former Jewish settlements dismantled by Israel in 2005.

David Bedein can be reached at [email protected]. His Web site is


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