Hamas has amassed an army of 27,000 men in preparation for its next war with Israel, including a unit dedicated to attacking civilians inside Israeli territory, Avi Issacharoff reported Monday in The Times of Israel.
“Hamas is built like an army in every way,” Issacharoff reported, with fighters broken up into six regional brigades, 25 battalions, and 106 companies. The elite Nuhba unit consists of 2,500 men, a third of whom have trained to infiltrate Israel by sea, by air via drones or motorized gliders, or by land via terror tunnels.
The cross-border tunnels, which were designed to allow terrorists to kidnap and kill soldiers and civilians, are the primary focus of Hamas’s military buildup.
According to Issacharoff, Hamas has created a virtual city underground, where it safeguards its rocket operation as well as command and control structure.
Reports earlier this year showed that Hamas is preparing for a new war against Israel. In April, an IDF unit that monitors the border with Gaza told The Times of Israel that it observed Hamas “rearming on every level on the sea-front — systems, weapons and trainings.” In March, it was reported that Hamas had developed powerful new rockets that could threaten Israeli border towns.
A senior IDF official told Israel’s Channel 2 in February that Hamas had rebuilt its tunnel infrastructure and rocket arsenal to the levels it maintained before its 2014 war against Israel.
Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated last July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out last year that Hamas has prioritized building up its terror infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”
Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters last May that Hamas is investing “a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel.”
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