Hamas is “Working ‘Round the Clock”
NEW YORK- Earlier this year, Shlomo Gazit, former chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, warned that an Israeli retreat from Gaza “will transform it into a big armed camp into which weapons of all kinds will stream via land, sea and maybe even air. It will also become an arsenal for independent development and production of arms.” (Ma’ariv, Feb. 9, 2004) Now, there is frightening new evidence that Gazit’s warning will soon come true.
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz, quoting senior Israeli military sources, reports (Oct. 25, 2004) that “Palestinian terror organizations in the Gaza Strip may have anti-aircraft missiles in their possession, possibly Russian Strela (SA-7) missiles.” Ha’aretz also noted: “In an interview to a Saudi newspaper last month, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza said his organization was seeking help from Arab states to acquire weapons capable of downing Israeli aircraft ”
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports (Oct. 23, 2004) that “in the first admission of its kind, a senior Hamas official disclosed on Saturday that the movement has a number of factories in the Gaza Strip for manufacturing various types of weapons. Nizar Rayyan, a Hamas leader from Jabalya refugee camp, said the factories were busy manufacturing different types of mortars and rockets to be used against Israel . ‘[T]he weapons of the Hamas fighters are manufactured locally,’ Rayyan said. ‘For several years now we have had our own weapons factories and we are working round the clock to improve the fighting capabilities of our fighters. We first made hand grenades and rocket-propelled RPGs, mortar rockets and their launchers, and then Kassam and Yassin rockets.'”
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said: “It is only the presence of Israeli troops that keeps the terrorists at bay — if Israel leaves Gaza, they will — be free to organize, recruit, train, and strike across the border into Israel.”
The latest developments follow several other recent reports indicating the growing military dangers that Israel will face if it retreats from Gaza:
PA Giving Guns to Terrorists:
In June 2004, a report by an Israeli think tank, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, disclosed evidence that the PA has been providing weapons to terrorists in Gaza: “During the final days of Operation Rainbow [Gaza, May 2004], the Palestinian National Security apparatus in Rafah supplied weapons (small arms, machine guns) and ammunition to Palestinian terrorists to be used while the operation was still under way The incident serves as an illustration of the Palestinian Authority apparatuses readiness to provide military aid to Palestinian terrorists.” (See www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/6_04/rafah.htm)
PA Providing Military Training to Children:
The Jerusalem Post reported on July 13, 2004):
“Palestinian children attending some summer camps in the Gaza Strip are undergoing military training at the hands of gunmen belonging to various Palestinian factions. The children, aged 7-15, are taught, among other things, how to use automatic rifles and pistols, assemble and dismantle explosive charges, and jump through burning tires.
“The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel on Tuesday broadcast footage of the children undergoing military training in one of the summer camps in the Gaza Strip. The report showed the children also being trained how to rescue hostages from a hijacked white Subaru. Most of the children were seen brandishing different types of weapons and dressed in military fatigue.
“Most of the trainers were masked men carrying AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled launchers. Some of them belonged to Fatahs armed wing, Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades The supervisors of the camp were quoted as saying that the purpose of the military training was to prepare the children to defend their homeland.
“The report also showed the children graduating from the military summer camp and receiving certificates of merit from masked gunmen.
“Hamas and other Islamic groups have also launched their own summer camps in dozens of mosques throughout the Gaza Strip. The mosque camps, which are the most popular, offer lessons in the Koran and computer, as well as various sports activities. We hire professional captains and teachers to polish up the physical and mental skills of our children, who, God willing, will liberate Palestine, Jasser Al-Mashoukhi, the imam of Al-Farouk mosque in the southern city of Rafah told the Islam On Line Website.”