Islamic State operatives in the Gaza Strip have been helping themselves to Hamas rockets in recent weeks after furtively penetrating the factory teams operating the group’s production and assembly lines, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal. The jihadis then secretly passed the stolen rockets to their squads for launching against Israel.
By this device, ISIS newly arrived in Gaza has overcome its immediate deficiencies:
1. They are tapping a local manufacturing source to steal rockets, instead of having to smuggle them in from afar through Egyptian Sinai. As the ISIS presence in the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave expands, so too will the intensity of its rocket fire against Israel.
2. The Islamists count on acquiring more advanced longer-range missiles by the same means as soon as they are developed by Hamas’ manufacturing plants.
It is hard to determine how this ominous reality relates to the comments the IDF OC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Sammy Turjman, made to the heads of the local communities around the Gaza Strip Sunday night, June 7, to calm their fears over the resumption of rocket fire in the last two weeks.
“In the Southern Command we have noticed that Hamas is making an effort to stop the rocket fire, although we don’t absolve the organization of responsibility and will respond accordingly,” the general said.
He added: “Because of a few rockets exploding on empty ground, the IDF won’t embark on an operation in the Gaza Strip and jeopardize the gains we achieved [last summer].”
The problem with these platitudes, say debkafile’s military analysts, is that they represent a repeat of the mistake Israel made on its northern front, by letting the Hizballah terrorists pile up a huge arsenal of up to 100,000 rockets and missiles, all pointing one way – south.
Hamas may indeed be trying very hard to prevent rockets being fired against Israel from the Gaza Strip, but it has not been able to keep ISIS undercover agents out of its manufacturing plants or from stealing the rockets. Gen. Turjman does not say how the Islamists managed to creep into the Hamas factories or whether they have been able to invade other parts of the Palestinian military organization.
The point is not how many rockets should be fired before the IDF goes to war in the Gaza Strip, but for how long Israel’s leaders can afford to pretend to make naught of the dangerous situation building up there. ISIS uses such make-believe to fuel its policy of expansion.
Israel, Egypt and Hamas are in fact working together, out of their respective interests, to put a stop to the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been blowing up smuggling tunnels; Hamas contingents are out there trying to nab the rocket teams; Israel and its armed forces, acting on orders from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, without informing the public, are marking out a broad anti-rocket sterile zone, stretching from the Gaza border to encompass the communities and towns in the south and up to the international airport to the north.
This area embraces a population of 1.6 million and ten cities – Ashkelon, Ashdod, Netivot and Beersheba, long sufferers of Gaza rockets, and further north: Modi’in, Ramle, Lod, Rehovot, Ness Ziona and Gedera. Another Iron Dome battery was positioned in Rehovot, in addition to those defending the south.
Most Israelis are not aware of the size and destructiveness of the long-range Grad missiles, at least three of which exploded in the last fortnight. debkafile has attached a photo to this article to illustrate the deadly weapon now in the hands of the Islamist State in Gaza.
Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad alone possess rockets capable of reaching Rehovot, some 30 km southeast of Tel Aviv and the same distance from the Ben Gurion international airport, it is now obvious that the Islamists have got hold of them, notwithstanding the efforts made by Israel, Egypt and Hamas.
ISIS’s ability to stealthily invade Hamas poses them all with their most daunting problem.