Yerushalayim (Andrew Friedman/TPS) – Hamas has entirely rebuilt the military strength it had at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in June of 2014, a senior defense official said Tuesday.
Hebrew-language Channel 2 reported that the terror group has rebuilt tunnels and replaced its stockpile of missiles with locally-made models. In addition, security officials are concerned that the recent reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the Egyptian government could ease the import of weapons and ammunition to the Gaza Strip via the Rafiah border crossing.
The report followed Palestinian claims that Muhammad a-Zouari, a Tunisian aviation engineer who was assassinated in Tunisia last month, had visited Gaza “several times” in recent years, evading Israel’s land and naval blockade and avoiding detection by Israeli authorities while in the Strip. Hamas blames Israel for the assassination.
Protective Edge was the third protracted military operation against Gaza since Binyamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, and the fourth since Israel withdrew from the Strip in 2006. Hamas fired more than 4,564 rockets and mortar shells at civilian targets in Israel during the conflict, killing six civilians including a four-year-old boy. Sixty-four IDF soldiers died in the ground campaign, and 32 Hamas tunnels were destroyed.
Gaza health officials said that 2,200 Palestinians died during the war, including more than 1,000 civilians. More than 20,000 homes were destroyed.
A recent IDF training exercise on the Gaza border