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Will Hamas Use Humanitarian Excuse to Start War with Israel?

02-05-2018
Hamas fighter, Photo, AP archives

JERUSALEM, Israel – Trump administration Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt says Hamas and its mentor, Iran, bear responsibility for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as the IDF's army chief warns that Hamas could use that situation to start a new war soon.

The $100 million that Iran gives Hamas could go a long way toward helping the people of Gaza, Greenberg tweeted.

Just last week, the US designated Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh a "specially designated global terrorist."

An Excuse for War

On Sunday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisencott told cabinet ministers the humanitarian situation could provoke Hamas to start a fourth military confrontation with Israel in 2018.

The first three were Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In each instance, Hamas bombarded Israel with daily rocket and missile barrages and sometimes attempted to infiltrate Israel through underground attack tunnels.

Hamas took control of Gaza more than a decade ago in a bloody military coup. Over the years, Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, has tried to impose fundamentalist Islamic rule over the residents.

In an ongoing cat-and-mouse power trip between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, Gaza residents have dealt with power and fuel shortages, among other items. Hamas also sponsors terror training camps for the kids in the summer.

Israeli media sources report that Israel may intervene with humanitarian aid ostensibly to thwart attempts by Hamas to start another war. It's a tactic the terror group has used before.

According to the London-based al Quds al Arabia daily newspaper, Hamas has been amassing its jihadist forces near the Israeli border.

Hamas Responsible, Not Israel

Israel's ArutzSheva quoted a Channel 10 interview with former IDF Southern Command Commander Yom Tov Samia, who said Hamas is responsible for the poor living conditions in Gaza.

Samia said Hamas commandeers the goods and equipment trucked into the Strip daily – some 650 truckloads. The terror group uses the supplies to build and equip attack tunnels and resells donated household goods at prices few can afford.

"I speak with Gazans," Arutz Sheva quoted Samia from the interview. "There is no siege on Gaza. Everything that the P.A. wants to bring into Gaza is allowed in, other than tanks and rifles. Everyone knows this."

Hamas, he said, is more interested in a terror offensive than in helping the people of Gaza.

Caught in the Act

In a related incident, the Israeli Ministry of Defense Crossing Authority at the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza prevented explosives material from being smuggled into the Strip in a shipment of medical equipment. It's by no means the first time, and Israel Police and security forces are investigating the terrorists' latest smuggling attempt.

Several months ago, Israel upgraded equipment at the laboratory for substance identification at the crossing. Technicians can examine gasses, liquids, powders, solids, metals and other materials before they're transferred to Gaza.

Last year, there were dozens of attempts to smuggle material to use in the terror infrastructure.

Test Firing Missiles

Meanwhile, Hamas reportedly test fired five missiles near the Gaza coastline on Saturday, Asharq al-Awsat reports.

According to the report, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the "military wing" of Hamas, have been testing rockets it's manufactured in preparation for the next confrontation with Israel.

Israeli military source say Hamas launched the missiles from several different outposts in Gaza, with the goal of improving the terror group's capabilities with longer-range rockets and missiles.

Israelis living in Gaza-perimeter communities have expressed concern over the missile tests, while Israeli security officials continue to closely monitor the tests with an eye on natural gas platforms off the Gaza coast.

The IDF responds to rocket fire by targeting the terror infrastructure.  

"In response to the projectile fired at southern Israel... fighter jets struck a Hamas compound composed of two military structures," the IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement.

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