Hamas probably is not responsible for the recent escalation of missile attacks on Israel and may even be trying to prevent them. However, it still will be the target of retaliation, a senior Israeli military officer told Reuters Thursday.
The officer, who was quoted on the basis of anonymity, said rival terrorist groups, smaller than Hamas, are likely behind the attacks.
The IDF routinely states that Hamas is responsible for all terrorist activity since it is the de facto authority in Gaza since it overthrew the rival Fatah terrorist faction nearly eight years ago.
Evidence of smaller groups was exposed by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) on Wednesday, when it revealed that it arrested in December three Palestinian Authority terrorists, including the ringleader who tried to create the cell from his Israeli jail cell and was in contact with a Gaza terrorist under the direction of Hamas.
The Holy Warriors Brigade, was financed and trained by Hamas, which in effect was a front for the cell, security officers said.
The IDF has suggested several times over the past two years that Hamas is losing control of Gaza and that it is unable to influence other terrorist groups to increase or decrease attacks on Israel.
The latest round of missile attacks spiked with five launches towards Ashkelon late Wednesday night, with the Iron Dome system intercepting the incoming rockets.
“We won’t go back to a situation where three or four times a week the red alarm sounds in southern Israeli towns,” the military source told Reuters.