|العربية: علم حماس עברית: דגל חמאס I made this for use on the Hamas article of Wikipedia. Category:Hamas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Please find attached my article "Hamas in disarray" published by Jerusalem Report on November 18, 2013.
The article is based on my academic paper previously published by Perspectives on Terrorism, Volume 7, Issue 5.
In spite of its evident political weakness and regional isolation Hamas keeps open the option of renewed fighting against Israel. This is one of the main reasons of its return to Iran's (and Hezbollah) embrace, the main providers of military hardware, training and strategic advice.
This also explains Hamas's recent strengthening of its alliance with the Gaza Salafist groups.
The strategy of challenging Israel's might in the next military clash through the expansion of an underground infrastructure of bunkers and tunnels has been confirmed at the beginning of October 2013, when the IDF uncovered a massive Hamas attack tunnel leading from Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, into Israel.
It is the most well-designed tunnel found by the IDF to date, buried some 20 meters underground. It took Hamas probably a year and a half to complete, its height allows people to stand fully upright as they use it. (See at http://www.jpost.com/National-News/IDF-discovers-Palestinian-terrorist-tunnel-leading-from-Gaza-to-Kibbutz-in-Israel-328584)
The tunnel was constructed using approximately 24,000 Israeli concrete slabs which the IDF had permitted into Gaza to ease the crisis in the civilian construction sector. As a result, Israel has stopped allowing concrete into Gaza. This shows again that Hamas's priority is the struggle against Israel and not Gaza's population basic economic needs.
The strategic tunnel could be used for a major terrorist attack inside Israel by possibly several dozen militants or kidnapping soldiers or civilians for negotiating the release of the Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.
[By the way, the Hamas used in the past underground tunnels to try to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president in June 2007. At the time The Palestinian Authority released a video of what it said was the Hamas assassination attempt. See at http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2007/06/2008525125054538883.html]
Hamas leaders not only boasted about the construction of the tunnels but a few weeks later Hamas's military wing revealed a unit that specializes in digging offensive tunnels. An Al-Jazeera television report aired on the one-year anniversary of Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza showed Hamas operatives digging a tunnel and preparing infrastructure for launching rockets from below ground. The tunnel is equipped with electricity, used to light the facility and power the electric jackhammers used to dig. The Hamas operatives described their preparation for the inevitable next round of hostilities with Israel. They can spend weeks at a time underground without being detected, one operative explained. (See at
On November 11, Hamas held a huge military rally in the Gaza Strip marking the anniversary of Operation Pillar of Defense. Several thousand well-equipped fighters from Hamas’ military wing paraded M75 missile and multiple-rocket launchers. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar declared that the Hamas military would “reach out for all of Palestine.” (See http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/131119-israeli-jets-target-terror-targets-in-gaza)
The discovery of the tunnel and the IDF's operation to destroy it provoked several incidents in which five Israeli soldiers were wounded and four Hamas members were killed. Then Israeli planes attacked two rocket launchers in Gaza in response to the firing of rockets in the direction of Ashkelon and the firing of mortars at the Eshkol region.
Mustafa Ibrahim, from the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza, told Al Jazeera he had warned Hamas not to rely too much on the tunnels, because it removed the responsibility of Israel as an occupying power to ensure all humanitarian needs. Ibrahim said he fears mounting pressure on the government will result in Hamas seeking to direct Gazan animosity towards Israel by provoking an escalation in violence. "It's a hard choice for Hamas but if this crisis continues, the only solution they will have is to start a violent crisis in order to solve this one," Ibrahim said.
It will be interesting to follow the behavior of the Tehran regime towards Hamas's bellicose strategy on the background of its improved relations with the West following the recent Geneva nuclear deal.
Ely Karmon, PhD
Senior Research Scholar
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and
The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at
The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC(
Fax.: 972-9-9513073, 972-9-7716653