Hamas terrorists have been instructed by the group to refrain from accepting gifts, driving alone at night, and using smartphones that haven’t been checked.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Amid speculation that a major Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip could take place before the April 9 Israeli general election, Hamas – the terror group which rules the Strip – reportedly is preparing for such an eventuality.
Arab media reports reveal that Hamas has detained Palestinians who are suspected of collaborating with Israel, and learned through these informants that the Israeli military was mobilizing for a major strike. According to the information relayed, say media outlets, Israel would “exploit” an attack from Gaza that causes major damage or loss of life in order to hit back hard at Hamas.
A senior Hamas official is cited in Al-Hadaf, a Palestinian weekly published in Lebanon, as saying that Israel has bolstered its effort to recruit Palestinian informants to help lay the groundwork for a large-scale military action. Members of the Hamas “military wing” have reportedly received instructions on how to prevent such collaborators from gaining inside information about the terror group.
Hamas sources are quoted as saying they have reason to believe that the Israeli action might include targeted killings of top terror figures. As a result, reports Al-Hadaf, the preventive measures include a warning to the military wing members to refrain from accepting gifts, driving alone at night, and using smartphones that haven’t been checked.
A Hamas source told the Palestinian magazine that the Israeli attack might be of “unprecedented” proportions.
Netanyahu warns Hamas
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion of the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting to again warn Hamas: “Do not test us,” adding that Israel would “do everything we need to bring about quiet.”
Israel acknowledges that other “rogue” terror groups in Gaza have been responsible for an uptick in the launching across the Israeli-Gazan border of incendiary balloons and other projectiles, but Jerusalem continues to hold Hamas responsible because it has controlled the coastal enclave ever since it overthrew the Palestinian Authority in 2007.
“I heard people from Gaza saying that since we are in an election campaign a wide-ranging operation is out of the question,” said Netanyahu on Sunday. “I suggest to Hamas not to count on it.”
In an Israeli radio interview last week, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that an Israeli attack on Gaza could come “even before the election” if the cross-border attacks continue.
An Egyptian delegation visited Gaza last week and relayed an Israeli warning to Hamas of the potential of a massive IDF strike inside the Strip if quiet is not restored, according to the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper.
Israelis living near the Gazan border had complained that the government was not taking the balloon attacks seriously, even though they have caused large fires, economic damage, and only miraculously have not caused a loss of life. The calls prompted the government to declare that balloon – and also kite and other similar – attacks would be regarded as terror incidents, opening the possibility of a more serious Israeli military response in the future.
However, according to Arab media reports, Hamas believes that a rocket attack would more likely be the kind of incident that would result in a massive Israeli strike in Gaza.
Israel has been responding to the Palestinian attacks by firing back at specific targets. A wider-scale Israel strike would be aimed at hitting the terror groups at their core, perhaps even returning to a policy of targeted assassinations of their leaders.