The Palestinian terrorist group is winding down its missile-mortar offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip in order to be free to focus on its new terrorist offensive on the West Bank, debkafile's military and counter-terror sources report. The clash Monday, Sept. 27, was sparked when a Hamas' special forces unit tried to wrest the 500-meter deep buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip from IDF control.
The Hamas unit was established recently to curb Palestinian missile, mortar and firearms fire against Israel (200 were fired in the last two months). However, Hamas leaders demanded through European and Egyptian go-betweens that Israel troops remove themselves from this border strip, stay out and rely on Hamas' special unit to keep the peace.
This demand was rejected by Israeli commanders because a) it would amount to accepting the legitimacy of Hamas' seizure of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority, and b) because of its underlying motives, as revealed by Egyptian military and intelligence sources:
1. The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip seek to undermine Israeli military control of the common border area.
2. They want the Gaza sector to stay calm so that they are not distracted from their next objective, which is to subject the West Bank to a massive campaign of terror, following which they plan to sink their teeth into that territory too.
This campaign of violence was launched, as debkafile has reported, for the initial goal of sabotaging the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks by striking at Israelis and Palestinian Authority targets alike. But Hamas has now decided that the talks are dead and have found the Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, willing to bury the hatchet and engage Hamas chiefs for talks in Damascus. They have therefore narrowed their sights and are focusing exclusively on attacking Israelis. Hamas plans to follow up on its first three attacks on Israeli civilians (the last occurring Sunday night Sept. 26, in which a couple was injured in a drive-by ambush south of Hebron) with a broader offensive.
So, when Hamas troops pushed into the buffer strip along the Gaza-Israeli border Monday, Sept. 27, the IDF pushed back. The clash erupted in an area east of Khan Younis in the southern sector, when Israel forces crossed in to drive them out. No one was hurt.
At the same time Hamas commandos are also forcibly evicting would-be missile and mortar teams from fellow terrorist organizations out of the border zone.
Israel is also acting to cut Hamas down on the West Bank before it is too late. Monday, an Israeli unit detained 5 known terrorists at Salfit, south of Nablus, impounding an MI6 automatic rifle, three pistols and several improvised weapons with a large amount of ammunition and military gear found stashed in their homes.
While Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah are still trying to resuscitate the collapsed direct negotiations, Hamas is already going full steam ahead with its plans on the assumption that the diplomatic track is over and done with.