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Israeli Official: 'The Next Battle with Hamas Will Be the Last'

06-16-2016
Hamas Attack Tunnel in Gaza

JERUSALEM, Israel - Another Hamas member surrendered to Israeli authorities this week at the border with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

According to the report, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka has extensive knowledge of the terror group's attack tunnels. Baraka is the second senior Hamas member to be taken into Israeli custody recently.

Last month, Israeli forces captured Mahmoud Atawnah as he crossed into Israel to carry out a terror attack.

Two Arab teenagers from Gaza, both claiming familiarity with the labyrinth of attack tunnels, are also in Israeli custody. One of them said the tunnel system allows Hamas to traverse the Gaza Strip underground.

In the two years since Operation Protective Edge, launched to thwart Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli population centers, Hamas has invested heavily in the tunnel network, prompting one Israeli official to say the next conflict is "inevitable."

Israel, he said, is well aware of Hamas' efforts to build up its military forces, which means there will be another confrontation.

"The next battle between Israel and Hamas will be the last one," he said. "There won't be any Hamas government after that."

At a briefing earlier this week, he told journalists that Mahmoud Abbas, the 81-year-old head of the Palestinian Authority, no longer has the ability to reach an agreement with Israel.

"The man doesn't have the public support or the strength to reach any arrangement or agreement," he said.

He added that while Abbas is seen as the main problem, Hamas is running a close second.

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