The Israeli Defense Force last week conducted a five-day drill simulating a confrontation with Hamas including infiltrations by Hamas terrorist commandos on land, sea and air. The Gaza Division’s large-scale exercise, held once a year, included hundreds of reserve soldiers.
According to a report, in Hebrew-language website Ynet, it included scenarios in which dozens of terrorists enter Jewish communities through several entry points, attack tunnels, paragliders, and the sea. Forces also drilled operating under incessant rocket and mortar fire on the Gaza periphery communities and the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon.
There are fears Hamas may begin its next confrontation with a heavy barrage of bombs on border communities to debilitate army forces from responding. They have a vast tunnel network and huge weapons caches. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, five Hamas marine commandos tried to infiltrate Kibbutz Zikim before they were killed by the IDF. Israel’s defense establishment has warned that the army must especially prepare for the strengthening of Hamas’s marine commando unit, which is believed to have more divers today than during the 2014 war.
The drill included special units of the IDF, as well as the mandatory service battalions that routinely patrol and secure the Gaza Strip border fence and the communities close to the border. The army practiced an orderly evacuation of communities close to the border, according to a plan formulated over the past year by the IDF.
“The Gaza Division drill was an excellent opportunity to strengthen the readiness and capabilities of the division’s men in mandatory and reserve service. The division simulated various scenarios in its entire territory,” said IDF Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs.
Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip possessed around 10,000 rockets including long-range missiles such as the M-302. Hamas is in control of 6,000 of these rockets. Hamas uses civilian infrastructure to store and hide weapons. The terrorist group used the densely packed civilian areas of the Gaza Strip to embed its weapons arsenal and command centers. To target these terror sites and limit civilian casualties, the IDF used precision attacks and provides warnings of strikes in advance. The Hamas terrorists aren’t so selective. They reign munitions indiscriminately down on heavily populated Israeli civilian areas. Suicide bombings target women and children.
Hamas’ tunnel network is a vast underground city with dozens of access points located throughout Gaza. Hamas uses these tunnels as weapons caches, bunkers, command centers and a concealed transportation artery for terrorists and weapons, including rocket launchers. Some of these tunnels lead directly from Gaza to Israeli communities near the border, enabling terrorists to infiltrate, kidnap and attack Israeli civilians. The residents of southern Israel live in constant fear knowing that, at any time, a terrorist could emerge from a tunnel near their house and abduct or murder their neighbors or children.
Hamas exploits the Palestinian population of Gaza by building tunnels beneath densely populated areas. Many times, the tunnels’ access points are hidden between schools, mosques, hospitals and other civilian buildings. The terrorist organization deliberately embeds its terrorist infrastructure inside civilian’s neighborhoods, knowing that the IDF is reluctant to strike civilian areas.
Hamas deliberately uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and has a long history of doing so. Hamas hopes to achieve two goals by using human shields: to deter IDF attacks on legitimate military targets, and to exploit any incidental harm that is caused because of IDF military activity.
Hamas’ use of human shields is a clear and deliberate violation of international law. Under the law of armed conflict, the presence of the civilian population cannot be used to render certain points immune from military operations, or to shield one’s own military operations. International law also explicitly forbids directing the civilian population to shield military objectives from attack.
This practice not only makes the IDF’s efforts to reduce civilian harm more difficult, but is also potentially lethal for civilians in Gaza. Despite the IDF’s best efforts to avoid incidental harm, the increased presence of civilians in areas of planned IDF activity raises the risk of harm to the civilian population.
How does Hamas fund weapons and the building of tunnels? The answer was Barack Obama. The Trump administration is reviewing the release of millions of dollars for Palestinian projects made by the Obama administration in a last-minute transfer that flouted congressional objections.
We Got Your Back Again
Former Secretary of State John Kerry cemented the $221 million transfer in the administration’s final hours and informed Congress of it early on January 20, triggering anger on Capitol Hill and a statement from the Trump administration that they would be examining all expenditures.
“The Department of State is currently reviewing last minute spending approved by the previous administration and will make adjustments if needed to ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the Trump-Pence administration,” Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
Other reports suggest that the administration told Congress the funds would go to both the West Bank and Gaza, and that some money would be allocated for good governance projects, among other reforms. There is no accountability for the money.
Much of the anger on Capitol Hill is being directed specifically at Kerry, according to a senior official at a pro-Israel organization who works with Congress on Middle East appropriations issues. “Kerry bears personal responsibility for making it impossible for Congress to continue working with the Palestinians in any productive capacity,” the source said. “Offices on both sides of the aisle are openly talking about freezing almost all aid to the Palestinians, and they’re saying that he forced their hand.”
Thanks to pro-Muslim and anti-Israel Obama, Hamas is back up to strength, and threatening Israeli security. Israel can take care of itself, but now that Trump is president, they have a strong ally in the U.S. again.