Israeli officials believe Hamas preparing for another round of fighting, says report
Israeli defence officials believe that Hamas is preparing for another flare-up with Israel, according to a report published in Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Monday.
Citing defence sources, the report alleged that the Palestinian organisation which rules Gaza had begun manufacturing rockets again on a small scale, despite sustaining major blows to its operations during the 11-day war with Israel in May.
As a result of the war, Israeli strikes killed over 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, while in Israel, rockets from Gaza killed at least 13 people, including two children.
The Gaza Ministry of Health reported that more than 1,900 Palestinians were injured; Israel reported at least 200 casualties.
Israeli defence officials assessed that Hamas had an array of rockets that would be enough for another round of fighting as its rocket launchers were relatively undamaged during May's fighting. However, they said "civilian pressure" would be the key factor in whether any further attacks were launched.
The spark for fighting in May was repeated violent incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque complex by Israeli forces, and attacks on Palestinians in occupied east Jerusalem.
Haaretz also reported that according to defence and police sources, Israel “refrained” from heavy fire during protests that broke out along Gaza’s border with Israel this Saturday.
Demonstrations were organised this weekend along Gaza’s 65km frontier with Israel to mark the 52nd anniversary of the attempted burning of the al-Aqsa mosque by a far-right activist.
Israeli snipers fired bullets at protestors, injuring more than 40 Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head and remains in a critical condition.
The article claimed that Israeli forces held their fire, however, to avoid harming women and children.
“The arrival of a mass of people so close to the Israeli forces and an arm’s length from the fence is something that cannot happen,” said a security source.
Haaretz also reported that Israeli security officials were now preparing in the event of another mass demonstration of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.