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Tuesday, November 2, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Hamas warns of war for second time in a week

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime said it is accelerating military preparations for another war with Israel.


A senior Hamas official reported a military buildup in the Gaza Strip despite the assessment that war with the Jewish state was not imminent.

"I am convinced that we will prevail in this war," Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said.

This marked the second warning of a Hamas war against Israel within a week. In late October, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar also reported preparations for a conflict.

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In a Nov. 1 interview with the Saudi-owned Al Hayat daily, Hamad, regarded as the second most powerful man in the Hamas regime, said Israel was not likely to attack the Gaza Strip in the near term. He said Israel was fearful of an international backlash, Middle East Newsline reported.

"We are not afraid of war and expect that the war will come, but the international situation is not suitable for war right now," Hamad said.

In January 2009, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip in a failed effort to stop Hamas rocket fire. Hamad, in the first such admission, said at least 400 Hamas fighters were killed in the 23-day war, 150 of them classified as police and security personnel.

"On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 people were martyred," Hamad said. "This was in addition to about 200 to 300 others from the [Hamas military wing] Izzedin Kassam Brigades."

Hamas was said to have been focusing on developing and training on new missiles and rockets. In late October, Nigeria seized an Iranian mortar and rocket shipment said to have been destined for the Gaza Strip.

"What concerns us is how to use weapons and develop security and support," Hamad said.

Hamad has been deemed the second most powerful figure in the Hamas regime. The interior minister was said to receive direct Iranian support in his drive to expand the security forces.

The interior minister, said to cooperate with Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, said Al Qaida has failed to establish a base in the Gaza Strip. He said nearly 40 non-Hamas fighters have been arrested on charges of firing missiles and rockets toward Israel.

"We do not want to deal with Al Qaida," Hamad said. "We are centrists. We do not like extremists or zealots."

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