The defense establishment believes Hamas may try to carry out attacks by damaging the border fence in the next round of fighting.
Six months after Operation Guardian of the Walls, the defense establishment is preparing as it expects Hamas to try and damage the border fence between the Gaza Strip and the southern border by blowing up car bombs, infiltrating Israeli territory and hitting soldiers. In an exercise held this week in the Gaza Division, the forces practiced such scenarios, including an infiltration into Israeli territory.
The aboveground barrier, made of steel, is about 65 km long and six meters high. It will extend from Zikim Beach to the Kerem Shalom crossing and its purpose is to prevent terrorists from entering Israeli territory from aboveground.
The defense establishment believes that Hamas leaders understood, as part of the conclusions drawn from Operation Guardian of the Walls, that alongside the attack tunnels, which its people continue to invest in, the organization must develop additional options for operations that it has used effectively in the past, but abandoned in recent years. The security tensions and stalemate in talks with Hamas over an agreement for calm and a prisoner swap agreement, mediated by Egypt, could push the organization to take action against Israel.
According to evaluations, as part of operational orders for when the order is given, Hamas members are training for raids and infiltrations into Israeli territory as well as the use of large explosive vehicles.
As mentioned, the defense establishment is aware of the fact that Hamas is investing a lot of effort in digging new defensive and attack tunnels and in rehabilitating the tunnels damaged in the operation. It is estimated that the route of the attack tunnels is approaching the barrier area, although no tunnel out into Israeli territory is known.
Hamas terror operatives in Gaza tunnel (credit: REUTERS)
Israel has noticed that in recent months Hamas has been making a major effort to rehabilitate and improve its military capabilities, as a lesson from the operation in which its men found it difficult to hit IDF soldiers and targets along the border.
Among the areas in which Hamas is investing are: cyber warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), various airspace methods and anti-tank weapons. The IDF believes that the terrorist organization is not currently interested in a military confrontation due to the need to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip and its military capabilities. The defense establishment has identified a large presence of Hamas restraining forces in order to prevent clashes with the IDF. Recently, Hamas forces even aggressively arrested Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist operatives, in order to maintain stability in the region at this stage.In Israel, it is believed that incidents that may occur in security prisons, such as the death of a hunger striking PIJ prisoner, could lead to a terrorist attack and it is estimated that the PIJ is already preparing to carry out attacks. On the other hand, in recent months, Hamas leaders have repeatedly sent messages to the leadership of the PIJ that if the organization acts contrary to the position of the joint factions, its people will not receive military assistance from Hamas, as has already happened twice in recent years.