Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hamas gets set for suicide bombings, cross-border incursions

Israeli military leaders foresee a sharp escalation in the violence emanating from Gaza in the coming days, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. This week, the Palestinian Hamas mobilized several suicide bombers for missions to crash the Israeli border and seize Israeli civilian or military locales under the cover of scores of missiles and rockets.

Three attempts Thursday, June 12, were thwarted by Israeli forces. But Hamas’ mounting audacity highlights what many military experts are openly calling the bankruptcy of the static defensive tactics, restricted to the border fence, employed by defense minister Ehud Barak and chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi. At some point, they expect Hamas will manage to break through.

Senior officers at the IDF Southern Command comment that, instead of beating Hamas back from the Gaza-Israeli border, the last six months have seen Israel forces fighting to hold the line against constant Hamas bludgeoning and its upgraded weaponry from Iran and Syria.

Two weeks ago, scores of Hamas mortar teams began pounding Israeli villages with newly-delivered 120mm shells; armor-plated vehicles have been handed out to suicide bombers for smashing through the border fence on their way to multiple-death operations. Southern Command officers note that official references to a looming “major terrorist attack” from Gaza are meant to disguise the real threat: Hamas is building up for an invasion and the seizure of an Israeli military position or civilian location. If this goes on, Hamas may realize its ambition to be the first armed Arab force to snatch a piece of sovereign Israeli territory, the officers warn.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that several weeks ago, Hamas units began practicing cross-border incursions under the tutelage of Hizballah instructors, who flew in from Beirut to Cairo and made their way to the Gaza Strip, with the full knowledge of the Egyptian authorities.

A mobile legion of suicide, mortar, anti-tank and anti-air units are now standing by several hundred meters from the Israeli border. The anti-air weapons have not so far gone into action. The Israeli military has been held back from bombarding them so far because they are embedded in urban districts.

Friday afternoon, a bitter row burst into the open over in the Israeli government over responsibility for the deterioration on the Gaza front.

Defense minister Ehud Barak charged that were it not for Kadima’s preoccupation with its approaching leadership primary, a truce would have been in place in Gaza ages ago. (The corruption allegations against prime minister Ehud Olmert have forced his party to seek a replacement.)

Kadima’s Yitzhak Ben-Israel, a close Olmert associate, shot back: Barak is responsible for the impossible situation in the South. He is hoping to camouflage his failure by a phony deal with Hamas.

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