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Hamas Reportedly Pulls Back Anti-Rocket Force From Gaza Border, Heightens Risk of Escalation with Israel

Hamas security sources this weekend told Agence France Presse on Sunday that the Iran-backed terror group was withdrawing roughly 600 fighters from the border between Israel and Gaza, where they had been recently been stationed and tasked with preventing smaller terrorist groups from launching rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians and soldiers.

“The field forces that are posted near the border with Israel were withdrawn yesterday evening to protest the latest escalation and Israeli attacks against Gaza,” a security source told AFP. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source told AFP that while the 600-strong rocket-prevention force was removed, regular security forces remained in place.

Escalating rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip had in November 2012 triggered an Israeli offensive that severely degraded Hamas’s command and control infrastructure and its arsenal, and was followed by a near-total cessation in projective fire directed at Israel. A recent uptick in attacks from the Gaza Strip had generated blunt warnings that Israel would act to reestablish its deterrent should the escalation continue. Israeli outlet Walla tersely assessed, per a characterization of Walla’s report in Ma’an, that ‘Hamas’ move gives other Palestinian factions a green light to fire rockets at Israeli targets across the border.’ Hamas is battling to overcome what is inarguably the worst credibility crisis that it has faced since it violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and analysts fear that it is trying to rebuild its stature by provoking a confrontation with Israel.

[Photo: Middle East Info / YouTube]