JERUSALEM – The decision announced yesterday by Hamas to call off its nearly two year truce with Israel was finalized weeks ago, according to senior Israeli security officials. The officials accused Hamas of using Israeli actions the past few days as a pretence to restart violence.
Hamas leaders claimed yesterday their group decided to renew attacks against the Jewish state in direct response to the assassination this past Thursday of Jamal Abu Samhadana, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terror group and a Hamas minister, and in response to an alleged Israel Defense Forces artillery shell that apparently slammed into a beach in the northern Gaza Strip last night, killing 7 Palestinians.
But two weeks ago, Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas’ so-called military wing, told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview Hamas has been updating its weapons arsenal and that the truce with Israel would be called off. Abdullah is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’ Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’ declared “resistance” department.
“In the last fifteen months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities,” said Abdullah.
Hamas’ military wing yesterday warned it will resume attacks against Israel. The group was party to a ceasefire agreed to last February by Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmuod Abbas, although Israel says Hamas has continued to direct attacks using other groups, particularly the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees.
The announcement followed the assassination of Samhadana, who served as Hamas’ national security minister, and the alleged artillery firing into a beach in Gaza in response to Palestinian Arab terror groups firing missiles into nearby Jewish communities.
Samhadana’s Popular Resistance Committees is responsible for the vast majority of rockets launched from Gaza into nearby Jewish communities. He was allegedly plotting a large-scale attack against Israel at the time of his killing. He is also a suspect in the fatal 2003 bombing of a U.S. convoy in the Gaza Strip.
Israel says it is investigating the cause of the explosion at the Gaza beach last night, which wounded over 40 people and killed 7, including a woman and two young children.
Earlier Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz apologized for the incident, saying the army “regretted the strike on innocents.” But Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Israeli naval or air shelling at the beach have been ruled out and that Israel was investigating whether the explosion was a stray Israeli artillery shell or a “work accident” by a Palestinian explosives crew.
The IDF regularly shells uninhabited sections of the northern Gaza Strip in response to rockets fired at Jewish communities. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza last August, over 400 rockets have been launched from the territory.
Hamas declared in a leaflet distributed in Gaza today it would soon launch large attacks against Israel.
“The Israeli massacres represent a direct opening battle and that means the earthquake in the Zionist towns will start again and the aggressors will have no choice but to prepare their coffins or their luggage,” stated the leaflet. “The resistance groups … will choose the proper place and time for the tough, strong and unique response.”
Hamas claimed today it fired at least 15 Qassam rockets at Israel last night and this morning. Five Qassams launches were detected overnight, although no landing sites were identified and no damage was reported. Israeli security sources say several Hamas rockets fired today landed inside the Gaza Strip, falling short of their intended targets.
“This is only the start and rocket firings will continue,” said a Hamas spokesman this morning.
Israeli security officials say Hamas made the decision to end the truce several weeks ago in coordination with Iran and Syria. They say both countries are looking to foment regional instability to distract from mounting international pressure against their respective regimes. Iran is under fire for its suspected illicit nuclear program. Syria has been accused of leading a string of assassinations in Lebanon, including the killing last February of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Also security officials say Hamas has been contending with its own internal pressures, with many in the political leadership and the so-called resistance department favoring a renewal of terrorism.
But they say the Hamas declaration of renewed violence may be temporary, as the group will likely contend with increased international isolation as a result. They also say it is possible the military wing might claim to entirely break off from the Hamas political leadership.
“Hamas might use the ability to restart and end the truce to its advantage,” said an official. “Or they could play the (Yasser) Arafat card and claim they cannot control their military wing.”
Hamas developing new missiles to threaten most Israelis
Speaking to WND two weeks ago, Hamas leader Abdullah stated his group is developing electronically guided missiles to target Jewish communities.
“In the last months we accelerated the improvement operations of our missile production,” Abdullah said. “Thanks to Allah we have already improved missiles and in the future we will have the fourth model of our Qassam missiles, which will be electronically guided missiles and very accurate. Our Mujahadeen fighters are receiving a high level of training on how to use the new Qassams and how to maximize their accuracy. With the help of Allah we will succeed.”
Abdullah claimed the new missiles will be able to reach “every target in 1948 occupied Palestine (Israel) and that from Gaza we will be able to hit the center of Israel even if the transfer of these missiles to the West Bank (which runs alongside major Israeli cities) is for some reason interrupted.”
Palestinian Arab groups, until now, generally have fired three versions of Qassams, improvised steel rockets filled with explosives and fuel. They can travel between one and five miles. Qassam-3’s travel the farthest and are the largest, at about four feet in length. The rockets lack a guidance system and are launched from Gaza towns by terrorists who reportedly use the rocket’s trajectory and known travel distance to aim at Jewish neighborhoods near the Gaza border. About 20 percent of Qassams do not explode upon impact.
Israel has noted regular improvements in Qassams, although it has not released information about Palestinian Arab groups developing missiles with guidance systems.
A senior Palestinian Arab intelligence officer told WND there is evidence groups in Gaza are developing guided missiles.
Israeli defense officials have warned some advanced rockets, including anti-aircraft missiles, have been smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Abdullah claimed Israel has been deliberately minimizing his group’s rocket capabilities and stated Hamas eventually would break the cease-fire to which it agreed last February.
“It is normal that the Israelis will underestimate the capabilities of Palestinian resistance such as not admitting we are working on these new missiles,” he said. “The people who made the (Gaza) withdrawal don’t want to talk now about the so-called risks.”
Hamas looking to fly planes into buildings
Abu Abdullah also said Hamas is acquiring small aircraft for attacks against Jewish targets, possibly Tel Aviv skyscrapers.
“The goal is to have these planes carry maximum quantities of explosives and that they will be able to hit the targets that are fixed for its operation at a high level of accuracy. All the Zionist goals in our dear Palestine are legitimate [targets]. I estimate that this tool will not be used against regular targets. We will choose precious targets and I do not want to speak about strategic or any other targets. … We know that the enemy is building new and high buildings in Tel Aviv.”
The terror leader listed possible military targets, as well.
“[Our target] could be important military and civil buildings and compounds and it could also be settlements in 1948 occupied Palestine (Israel). We know that many of the decisions to kill our brothers are taken in the army headquarters in occupied Beer Sheva (considered the capital of the Israeli Negev desert). All these targets are legitimate ones,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah’s statements come after Palestinian Arab security officials told WND they believe Hamas recently smuggled into the Gaza Strip three small airplanes that can carry explosives and be used to attack Israel. They said information indicates the aircraft were purchased from eastern European dealers and that Hamas members received flight training from professionals in the Sudan, Iran and Syria.
Abdullah refused to confirm the reports but said his group has the right to acquire aircraft.
“I cannot confirm whether this information is right or not but for sure it is one of our goals to have these airplanes,” Abdullah said.