Hamas Ability to Maintain Truce Seen Declining – Yaakov Lappin
Senior security sources have noted an increase over the past two weeks in attacks on Israel from Gaza, leading them to question Hamas’ motivation or ability to continue to enforce the truce that has been in effect since November 2012. Because of growing pressure from Egypt, which has sealed smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai, with its negative impact on Gaza’s economy, the increase in attacks might be tied to Hamas’ lesser ability to govern Gaza and impose its will on other terror groups.
The Israeli defense establishment feels strongly that any new threats have to be nipped in the bud and that Israel needs to broadcast its unwillingness to tolerate the resumption of large numbers of Gazan terror attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Gaza Loses an Underground Lifeline – Khaled Alashqar
The border between Egypt and Gaza used to buzz with activity until a few months back as traders brought in an array of Egyptian goods through hundreds of tunnels. But these underground structures have fallen silent since the Egyptian army came to power in Cairo. Calling them a security threat, it launched a systematic military campaign against the tunnels, destroying them, along with the houses under which they were built, on its side of the border. The Egyptian army has established a buffer zone of 500 meters along the border and set up security checkpoints.
Thousands of tunnel operators, traders and workers have been hard hit. Abu Nabil, a Gaza resident who had operated a tunnel since 2007, said more than 90% of the passages have been destroyed by the Egyptian military. An estimated 20,000 tunnel workers are jobless.
Egyptian military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mohammad said: “The tunnels are used to smuggle militants and radical groups that threaten Egyptian national security. They should be destroyed.”
Prof. Sameer Abu-Mdalla of the economics faculty at Al-Azhar University in Gaza said that “the tunnels…led to the emergence of around 800 millionaires who used the income from operating tunnels for money laundering.” The tunnels were also a conduit for Palestinian militant groups to smuggle weapons into Gaza for use against Israel. (Inter Press Service)