According to senior military and defence officials, Hamas has fully restored its military strength to levels before the 2014 Operation Protective Edge conflict in Gaza, including its rocket arsenal, military infrastructure and attack tunnels infiltrating Israeli territory.
The 2014 conflict depleted much of the terror group’s arsenal and its military infrastructure, including the destruction of 32 cross-border attack tunnels by Israel.
Due to Egypt’s closure of its Rafah border crossing with Gaza and destruction of hundreds of tunnels, Hamas has increasingly relied on producing thousands of missiles domestically from locally-sourced materials.
Gaza is currently subject to a blockade by both Israel and Egypt in an effort to prevent Hamas from importing weaponry and restoring its military infrastructure. Israeli officials fear however that a détente between Hamas and Egypt could lead to the re-opening of the Rafah border and the possible import of materials that will help Hamas build up its capabilities further.
Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned: “Hamas and the rest of the groups in Gaza have not abandoned their desire to destroy Israel and to harm us…they know that the balance of power is not in their favour and if they act against us, they will pay a very heavy price”.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, stated in light of the death of Mohamed Zourai, a Tunisian drone expert believed to be assassinated by Israeli forces that: “The Zionist enemy will pay the price for the assassination, the score is still open”.
The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 to put an end to the hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, and to destroy the organisation’s network of cross-border terror tunnels that facilitated attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers inside Israel.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, a total of 5,014 rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip, and 32 Hamas terror tunnels were uncovered by the IDF.