Hamas is continuing to rearm itself two-and-a-half months after Operation Cast Lead, said Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet). More than 22 tons of explosives, hundreds of mortar shells, dozens of rockets and anti-tank missiles and 45 tons of raw material to manufacture arms, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Diskin added that Egypt is doing its part prevent the smuggling, but that the smuggling under the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip continued unabated.
Hamas is concerned about an escalation in its confrontation with Israel, especially in light of the freeze in talks for a prisoner exchange and the failure so far of its reconciliation talks with Fatah, Diskin said.
An additional round of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks was expected to be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Cairo, but nothing was expected to come of it, he said.
“The difference between the two sides is great,” Diskin said.
Diskin, in his last briefing to the current government, said there had been a marked decrease in the number of rocket attacks on the western Negev.
“Hamas’s military wing is constantly on watch for fear of an escalation, especially in light of the deadlock reached around the prisoner exchange deal and Hamas-Fatah relations.”
“There is indeed a drop in rockets, only one rocket from a small organization was fired in recent days. There are two reasons for this: Hamas is not interested in an escalation or another confrontation with Israel, and as a result, Hamas is carrying out arrests before attacks,” said Diskin.
Diskin also stated that Hamas was taking measures to stop small organizations from firing rockets and had signed an agreement with Islamic Jihad to prevent rocket fire for the short term.
Nevertheless, Diskin warned that the small terrorist organizations were plotting to kidnap soldiers, and were also planning attacks inside Israel – either via Sinai, or with the aid of terrorist organizations in Judea and Samaria.
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According to Diskin, Hamas has failed in efforts to secure a new cease-fire agreement with Israel, reconcile with Fatah, and rehabilitate the Gaza Strip.
“Because of this,” said Diskin, “Hamas is rethinking its moves, either to go back to past operational patterns, meaning a popular protest and raising international support, or there’s the other option of resuming terror activity.
“It was, and still is Hamas’s interest to rebuild Gaza and its missile lineup, and it is working on both planes,” said Diskin.
Since the war ended, a total of 185 rockets have been fired from Gaza at southern Israel.
*Photo from file. An exploded Palestinian rocket.
*YNET News and Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.