Senior Official in Netanyahu’s Office Describes Future Hamas Threat with Recommended Response

Dr. Aaron Lerner

December 16, 2015

Weekly Commentary: Senior Official in Netanyahu's Office Describes Future Hamas Threat With Recommended Response Dr. Aaron Lerner 17 December 2015

Military and Strategic Affairs Volume 7  No. 2 September 2015 features such an important article that instead of a regular commentary I want to share with you some highlights of the piece.

The article, "Will Hamas Be Better Prepared during its Next Confrontation With Israel? Insights on Hamas' Lessons from Operation Protective Edge" was written by "A.G.", a senior official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office along with  Dr. Gabi Siboni, director of the Military and Strategic A!airs Program at the Institute for National Security Studies.

I recommend that you download the PDF with the entire article at http://bit.ly/1JcHOaJ

Below are some choice excerpts.  Please keep in mind the great significance of the call to act against the Hamas arms buildup - this when PM Netanyahu and DM Yaalon have made such a strong commitment to the "quiet for quiet"

arrangement with Hamas that FACILITATES  the Hamas arms buildup as it rules out any Israeli action against Hamas military preparations - including weapons production except within the context of a tit for tat retaliation.

In point of fact, while the IDF target bank includes many Hamas weapons production facilities, in the last year, with extremely rare exception, every tit for tat retaliation was directed at either empty fields or sites not associated with the Hamas arms production program.

Excerpts:

.another round of fighting between the two parties appears to be only a matter of time. Hamas is well aware of this fact and is currently processing

and implementing the knowledge gained from Operation Protective Edge, and at

an increasing pace. its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, continues to develop new ways of fighting against Israel.

...we must also remember that waiting, even for a long period of time, is a drop in the bucket when compared to realizing the Islamic fundamentalist ideology of Hamas, which is decisively opposed to the existence of the State of Israel.

.The destruction of Hamas' attack tunnels into Israeli territory constitute a fundamental issue, and their rebuilding is a major goal of the organization, toward which it has been working since the end of the fighting.

.Hamas also recognizes that Israel does not have the capacity to contend with these tunnels through prevention and preliminary thwarting tactics, while an adequate solution for dealing with this threat has not yet been found elsewhere in the world. It is therefore quite likely that the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades will continue to dig attack tunnels into Israeli territory in an effort to surprise Israel once again, enact a heavy toll in casualties, and resonate regionally and internationally.

...Another insight Hamas gained in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge is the need to continue expanding and bifurcating the network of tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip. .

...With insights and knowledge gained from Operation Protective Edge, Hamas can be expected in the next round of fighting with Israel to fire heavier volleys of rockets at Ben Gurion Airport, as well as at the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the refineries in Haifa, the Ashdod Port, and other such strategic targets. From Hamas' perspective, striking a strategic facility - even if only a partial hit or if the attack fails to cause substantial damage- would constitute a significant, if not symbolic, achievement.

Due to the difficulty of smuggling goods into the Gaza Strip, Hamas has armed itself with rockets primarily through independent production. Indeed, from Hamas' position, the renewed strengthening of relations with Iran should facilitate Iranian assistance in rocket production and in establishing the complex infrastructure needed to improve the accuracy and range of its rockets.

. Iran, which possesses advanced capabilities in the field of UAVs, has already provided Hamas with assistance in this field and can be expected to continue doing so, especially as their relationship grows closer. It can be assumed that, among other things, Hamas will make use of UAVs during its next confrontation with Israel in order to carry out suicide missions or reconnaissance  missions to identify targets for rocket or mortar fire. ..

 ...it is only a matter of time and creative thinking until Hamas finds alternative smuggling routes and manages to bring large quantities of high quality weapons into Gaza. .Hamas is expected to invest great efforts in building up and arming its forces with a variety of advanced missiles, including guided anti-tank missiles, shore- to-ship missiles, and shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles. Hamas will also strive to strengthen its air defense system, despite recognizing the superiority of the Israeli air force, as the successful interception of a plane or helicopter, or a direct hit on an Israeli naval vessel, also would generate a story of victory, which it long has been hoping to achieve.

 .Hamas learned two major lessons about the functioning of the Iron Dome batteries during Operation Protective Edge. One is that the system cannot defend the entire territory of the State of Israel, and does not provide a solution for short-range missiles or mortar shells with ranges of five-to- seven kilometers or less.

. Given the small number of Iron Dome batteries, Hamas understands that in the next round of fighting with Israel, it will need to fire at a dispersed number of targets. This will force Israel to saturate the Iron Dome's batteries and focus its defensive system on specific targets, enabling Hamas to increase the accuracy of the rockets it launches. Hamas can therefore be expected to launch heavy and dense rocket volleys against Israel's civilian population, and more precise rockets and missiles against strategic targets.

The group is expected to increase the effectiveness of its launches and the chances of hitting its targets, which translates into increased killing and more severe property damage.50  In an effort to disperse its targets and saturate the Iron Dome's batteries, Hamas may seek the assistance of its allies to fire rockets into Israel from the north and the south .

Hamas can be expected to continue its efforts to accumulate as large a stock of high quality, precise, and longer-range rockets and missiles as possible, despite their high cost and the great difficulties involved in smuggling them into the Gaza Strip.

.Hamas can be expected to make substantial use of mortar fire against the settlements of the Gaza envelope in the next round of fighting, in an effort to cause the local population to flee. Hamas can also be expected to aim mortar fire at IDF assembly and deployment points, in order to cause as high a number of military casualties as possible.

.In practice, Hamas turned the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip into their own Iron Dome of sorts; Hamas caused injury to an uninvolved population in service of the ultimate aim of the victim doctrine: to create international pressure on Israel, and increase the country's isolation and delegitimization by exerting diplomatic, media, and legal pressure, as well as leveling accusations against Israel of use of disproportional force.

Conclusion

.Hamas has pinned its hope on Iran to help rearm and build up its military force.

.Hamas will.continue rebuilding its force in order to gain strength and further develop its rocket capabilities, improve its abilities to carry out cross-border actions, and arm itself with high quality advanced weaponry. It is feasible that if the group keeps its head down for a few years and refrains from heating up the region, in the next round of fighting it will be prepared, well equipped, and in a position to cause maximum damage to Israel. .. Hamas can also be expected to improve its rocket-firing regime and the tactical use of attack tunnels into Israeli territory.

.It is therefore incumbent upon Israel to consider using force and military might in the next round of fighting in order to compel Hamas to face the horns of the dilemma regarding the survival of its regime.

...In preparation for the next military campaign, Hamas expectedly will strive to manufacture and smuggle into the Gaza Strip more precise rockets, to be launched at strategic targets within Israel. Such action will force the IDF to divert some of its existing Iron Dome batteries to the defense of these targets, leaving fewer batteries to defend Israel's cities and settlements. Decision makers must therefore make clear to the Israeli population the importance of passive defense, and the fact that the active defense systems preferably will be operated to meet the needs of the IDF's offensive forceand to maintain the functioning of essential strategic systems.

In preparation for the next confrontation with Israel, Hamas is rehabilitating and strengthening its relations with potential allies in the north and the south, including Hizbollah and radical Islamic groups in the Sinai Peninsula and Lebanon, and by strengthening its infrastructure in the West Bank and in Jordan. It is undertaking these efforts in order to open at least one additional active front against Israel, even if only at low intensity, in the event of another confrontation as this will make it more difficult for the IDF to fight Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In order to delay the next round with Hamas, Israel must . prevent the group's military buildup by means of standard and advanced weaponry and the raw materials that may be used for their production.