Thursday, May 27, 2021

IDF Prepares For Next Hamas War, More Threats From Hamas

IDF preparing for possibility truce will fall apart; Hamas holds victory parade

A week after a ceasefire brought an end to 11 days of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces is reportedly preparing for the next round of fighting, with senior army officials said concerned an escalation from the Gaza-based terror group could come at any time.

Channel 13 news said that senior defense officials had described the ceasefire as “very unstable.”

The warning came as Hamas displayed some of its weaponry at a victory parade in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

While Israel’s political echelon has all but declared victory in Operation Guardian of the Walls, senior IDF officials have argued that at this stage it is impossible to determine how much Hamas had been deterred from future attacks and how the damage in the Gaza Strip would affect its decision to launch another campaign soon.

On Thursday IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said the fighting between the military and Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group ended decisively to Israel’s advantage.

IDF, and Hamas, which started a war as the alleged defender of Jerusalem, finished it as the destroyer of Gaza,” Kohavi said in a speech to graduates of the military’s war college.

He touted Israel’s “many achievements” in the campaign versus the “limited” military achievements of Hamas, most of which he said were psychological.

At the same time, he added that the IDF was drawing lessons from the fighting and “we are already preparing for the next campaign.”

Shortly before the ceasefire went into effect, the head of IDF Operations, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, said the conflict would be considered a success for Israel if it brought about five years of calm in Gaza.

But intelligence officials on Wednesday clarified that this was not an estimate for how long the ceasefire would hold, just a bar for assessing the outcome of the campaign, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Hamas’s leaders have claimed victory in the conflict as they seek to establish a narrative to explain the fighting to their people, and they can be justified in doing so, having accomplished many of the goals the terror group set for itself.

Throughout the fighting, the terror group defined itself as a protector of Jerusalem — launching the initial barrage of rockets at the capital in response to violent clashes between Muslim protesters and Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount — it also managed to exacerbate growing rifts between Jewish and Arab Israelis, inspire attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank, garner international attention for the Palestinian cause, and kill 11 civilians in Israel.

Despite a freshly signed ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate is already preparing for the next round of violence to break out.
The intelligence division (Aman) believes Hamas is still in the midst of fully understanding the damage caused to it during Operation Guardian of the Walls. The terrorist group is also trying to build a winning narrative around the fighting, which caused extreme damage to the already devastated enclave, and keep the link to Jerusalem alive.

On Wednesday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar downplayed the damage to its military infrastructure inflicted during the 11-day operation. He threatened to renew fighting if Israel “violates” al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
“We are ready for the great battle if the enemy commits a great folly in Jerusalem and the holy sites,” Sinwar said. “We wanted to deliver a message to the occupation and the world that we do not make threats haphazardly – so that the world knows that al-Aqsa has men who protect it.”

Violence between the Israel Police and Palestinian worshipers on the Temple Mount during the final days of Ramadan sparked the rocket fire on the capital, which led the IDF to carry out intensive strikes on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets across the blockaded coastal enclave

Thanks to superior intelligence gathered prior to the operation and during the fighting, and cooperation with other security bodies, the IDF was able to thwart most attacks planned by the group. It hit tunnels with operatives inside and eliminated several anti-tank guided-missile cells, leaving only a few Kornets, or Russian anti-tank guided missiles, in the hands of Hamas and PIJ.

Though Hezbollah remained silent during the fighting, on Wednesday, its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, threatened “regional war” should Israel attack holy sites in Jerusalem.

“The Israelis must understand that breaching the holy city and al-Aqsa Mosque and sanctuaries won’t stop the Gazan resistance,” he said in a cough-filled speech, adding that “Jerusalem means a regional war. All the resistance movements cannot stand by and watch this happening if the holy city is in real, grave danger.”

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