Friday, September 19, 2014


Features

Israel Faces Stronger Hamas As Fears Loom Of New Gaza War

The Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles are much longer-range than any missiles in the Hamas arsenal before.
The Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles are much longer-range than any missiles in the Hamas arsenal before.

Related Articles

Video Hamas Chief Visiting Egypt

The head of the Palestinian group Hamas has met with officials in Egypt on the conflict with Israel around the Gaza Strip.
By Charles Recknagel
As Israel faces off with Hamas, it is clear that the militia is stronger this time than it was during the last Gaza War in the winter of 2008-09.

For the first time, Hamas is using missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Several have landed on Tel Aviv's outkirts or in the nearby Mediterranean Sea. On November 16, a missile was fired at Jerusalem, also landing on the outskirts of the city. The Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles are much longer-range than any missiles previously in the Hamas arsenal.

At the same time, Hamas reportedly has acquired large stockpiles of weapons that could be used in ground fighting if the war escalated to an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Many of the weapons are believed to have come to Hamas during the recent periods of chaos in Egypt and Libya that accompanied the Arab Spring.

'More Sophisticated Weapons'

Yossi Mekelman, a regional expert at London-based Chatham House, says the Fajr-5 missiles were smuggled from Iran to Gaza through Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

"The assumption is that they arrived through the Sinai Peninsula through the tunnels [to Gaza] because since the end of the Mubarak regime the border [between Egypt and the Gaza Strip] at Rafah is quite open," Mekelman says. "And if you remember, Israel two weeks ago attacked an arms factory in Sudan. So the alleged route goes from Iran to Sudan into the Sinai Peninsula, and the lawlessness in the Sinai enables the smuggling of more and more sophisticated weapons."

Cairo's lack of control in the Sinai is a big change from the era of former President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime cooperated with Israel to control the border crossings with Gaza. The new Egyptian regime, led by Egypt's first Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi, has proven unable or unwilling to exercise the same degree of control.

Mekelman says the smuggling routes through Egypt also brought Hamas large amounts of weapons from Libya following the toppling of former strongman Muammar Qaddafi.

"Weapons during the civil war, or the revolution in Libya, disappeared. And this kind of chaotic situation creates opportunities for those who basically steal or take over ammunition and weapon storage depots and sell them for premium prices," he says.

Costly To Continue

Some analysts think that Hamas seized upon these opportunities to get new weapons as part of a larger strategy to remodel its fighting capabilities along the lines of Hizballah in Lebanon.

The Lebanese militia successfully resisted an Israeli campaign to dislodge it in southern Lebanon in 2006 through a combination of missile counterattacks and ground resistance that made it costly for Israel to continue.

Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter in central Tel Aviv as sirens wail on November 16.
Israelis take cover in a bomb shelter in central Tel Aviv as sirens wail on November 16.
Khaled Hroub, author of several books on Hamas and a professor at Cambridge University in England, says that Hamas has also adopted Hizballah's strategy of creating extensive tunnel networks that have allowed the militia to survive Israeli bombardments and to emerge from unexpected locations to fight skirmishes.

The question now for Israel is how to deal with this stronger enemy.

Israel has built a missile shield in recent years it calls the Iron Dome. It also is using air strikes to hit Hamas headquarters and communication centers and target key Hamas figures. On November 14, Israel assassinated Hamas' military chief Ahmed Jabari with a missile strike on his car.

But if the air strikes do not persuade Hamas to stop its missile attacks, the only way to suppress them would be a ground operation into Gaza. Israel has mobilized 16,000 reservists and massed tanks at the Gaza border in preparation for such an operation if necessary.
 
'Not An Easy Operation'


Riad Kahwaji of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (Inegma), a Beirut-based think tank, says Hamas now has "substantial military capabilities for an asymmetric confrontation" that could deter Israel from invading.

"From the Hamas retaliation [so far], it has become apparent that Hamas has a substantial missile arsenal of various calibers," Kahwaji says. "So it will not be an easy operation for the Israelis."

He notes that Israel not only has to weigh potential military casualties but also civilian casualties on both sides and international reaction to the death toll. During the Gaza War of 2008-09, which the Israelis called Operation Cast Lead, 13 Israelis and more than 1,400 Palestinians died.

Some analysts expect Israel to invade the Gaza Strip only as a last resort.

Natan Sachs, a regional expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, says Israel hopes instead to convince Hamas leaders through air strikes that continuing the conflict can be too costly for them personally to continue. The assassination of Jabari is an example of that strategy.

But so far, the assassination of the top Hamas military leader appears only to have raised the stakes higher for both sides. Hamas says the killing has "opened the gates of hell" for Israel, while Israel has warned of a "significant widening" of the Gaza operation.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
November 17, 2012 17:36
"Israel faces stronger Hamas".. Hmm.., and who made Hamas stronger? Probably RFE/RL wants to say it were Christian nuns.. , not the "strategic allies"
of US government - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, newly installed Wahhabi puppets in Libya, new friends of Hillary Clinton from Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt... none of them.. it were Christian nuns all along who made Hamas stronger
In Response

by: John from: US
November 18, 2012 17:24
Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. Israel has assumed the right to kill Palestinians.

I guess the polls in Israel were not too promising for Nati. what do you do? kill as many Palestinians as one can and let the polls surge in your favor before an election.

In Response

by: Alex from: Russia
November 18, 2012 20:50
Actually, Russian and Iran made Hamas stronger
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 19, 2012 15:48
When launched,Hamas was an alternative to thealready corrupt and degraded PLO,and as such it was heavily helped and financed by the yahoodies.And you forget one of its main sponsors today-moderate muslim cold turkey where the Hamas leaders hugged and kissed and hanky pankyed with Tayip Mad dogan at his party`s congress recently.And cold turkey is chief US ally in the fight against whatever necessary.

by: Anonymous
November 17, 2012 21:27
Quite misleading article, the recent conflict started with the The assassination of Jabari, not that Israel has used this strategy to stop Hamas missile fire. The true strategy of Israel's cabinet is just to impose war on both nations.

by: Alex from: LA
November 18, 2012 22:53
It's funny how Israel is made the victim here, RFE/RL should put some quotes about the Holocaust and Munich Olympics, there is not enough victimization of the aggressor state of Israel. Gaza is 'not a strip' its more ancient city that Jew themselves and Arabs put together. Two state, non-secular state is the only way out for these peoples, once Jews see that, then we will have an outlook on peace,but no they don't want to, they want to redraw the map again.

Most Popular