About 18 months after the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli security sources estimate that Hamas has replenished its inventory of rockets, but most of them are designed only for short distances and produced in local shops, Walla reported Friday. In June 2014, before the start of operation Protective Edge, Hamas maintained an arsenal of about 12,000 rockets, of which it used about 4,600 in July and August. Another 4,000 were destroyed by the Israeli Air Force, leaving a stash of about one-third of the original count.
With admirable discipline, ignoring the civilian population’s cries for help in rebuilding the ruins, restarting the economy and otherwise pulling close to 1.8 million people out of their miserable condition, Hamas concentrated instead on an intensive effort to recreate its lost military capacity. Raw material shipped in through the border crossings with Israel was utilized for rebuilding attack tunnels, intended to gain quick leverage by kidnapping Israelis on the other side of the border fence, and smuggling tunnels for replenishing Gaza’s rocket and mortar shell arsenal.
The latter, short distance mortar shells, have received a priority this time, according to Israeli sources, because they proved to be most effective in inflicting damage on and demoralizing the civilian Israeli population living near the border. Back in late August, 2014, all of Israel was devastated when a four-year-old Israeli boy was killed by a mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip on a Friday afternoon near the end of the war. The boy, Daniel Tragerman, was killed at home, with his parents and siblings nearby, at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, near the border fence.
The good news, according to Walla, is that after the Egyptian army had destroyed the entire array of smuggling tunnels leading from Gaza into the Sinai, the shipments of weapons, especially Iranian rockets, and industrial quality explosives was effectively blocked, leaving Hamas only the option of producing its instruments of death in-house. As a result, Israeli sources believe, the Hamas stash may have been replenished in numbers, but the new rockets are low quality, inaccurate rockets, using improvised, unreliable explosives.
That’s not to say that Hamas smuggling efforts have stopped — they have, in fact, increased, and in recent weeks Israel has captured at the Kerem Shalom border crossing components and raw material for both tunnel digging and rocket manufacturing.
The ratio of military and police operatives to the size of the civilian population is enormous in Gaza: about 40,000 recruits in a population of 1.8 million, or a uniformed man (not including mailmen) for every 45 Gazans. About 1,000 of them are involved in the tunnel digging project, a job that’s becoming more and more dangerous, apparently, since someone has figured out a way to collapse these tunnels at a rate of one every two to three days.
The days of the Hamas rule in Gaza may not be numbered, as some in the media have begun to speculate, but the quality of its threat against Israel has been seriously degraded in 2014, and, coupled with the radical regime change in Egypt in 2014 and other trends in the Arab world that decreased its power, Hamas finds itself at the lowest point in its short history. Which might push it to take even more desperate measures.