Defense officials rejected claims by a senior official on Sunday that Hamas has already begun rearming and rebuilding its attack tunnels, not two weeks into a month-long truce in the Gaza Strip.
“We don’t know of this information, and it is not clear to us on what the senior official’s [statements] are based and from where he derived this information,” the sources said.
Earlier Sunday, an unnamed senior official said Hamas had resumed digging the cross-border tunnels, replenishing its weapons stockpile, and manufacturing projectiles.
“We see that they’ve already started smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt, producing rockets and repairing the tunnels,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Citing intelligence information, the source said that Hamas’s ability to produce rockets has been severely hit, but added that about 40 percent of the terrorist group’s rocket-creation facility is still functional.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said last week the Hamas arsenal stood at roughly 2,000 rockets following nearly two months of fighting with Israel.
At the end of this summer’s 50-day war with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on August 27 said Israel had dealt Hamas an “unprecedented” blow.
Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza agreed to a one-month truce, during which time they’d negotiate a lasting ceasefire. It was not immediately clear how the report of Hamas’s rearming would affect the talks.
“We destroyed thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, rocket-production facilities and other weapons, arsenals, command and control positions, hundreds of command positions, hundreds,” said Netanyahu. While he admitted that it was “still too early to say” whether the operation’s objective — restoring calm to Israel’s cities for an extended period of time — was achieved, the prime minister said the damage Hamas had incurred and Israel’s ability, via border controls, to prevent their rearming, increase the chances that this goal will be achieved.