[On Friday, Palestinian gunners continued Kassam-class missile attacks
on Israel. At least two missiles slammed into the Israeli city of Sderot,
damaging cars and other property.]
The Israeli general, who gave a briefing on Thursday, reviewed Hamas's
military capabilities. Hamas was said to have formed an army of 13,000
soldiers, organized into four professional brigades, and equipped with anti-tank
missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, surface-to-surface rockets and mortars.
The general said Hamas has accelerated its military buildup since the
movement's takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. He said Hamas, which now
controls the Gaza border with Egypt, smuggled 20 tons of explosives from the
neighboring Sinai Peninsula in June. In 2006, Hamas acquired 36 tons of
explosives from Sinai.
Officials said the military assessment has been relayed to the
government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as parliament. They said
Olmert has been urged by the military to draft a strategy against Hamas.
"This [Israeli briefing] was more of a statement of facts than an
assessment," Tsahi Hanegbi, chairman of parliament's Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee, said. "Hamas has weapons meant to break the strategic
balance with Israel."
The military briefer said the Egypt-Gaza border comprised virtually no
obstacle to Hamas weapons smugglers. The general said Egypt has been unable
and unwilling to stop the influx of arms and explosives from Sinai.
"The Israeli government must decide on what to do about Hamas," the
general said. "A decision should be made before any operation in the Gaza
Strip becomes complicated because of Hamas's growing capabilities."