Hamas has reportedly begun returning its security forces to the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the first time the terror organization has done so since the start of deadly clashes in late March.
The forces, part of a Hamas unit tasked with maintaining calm on the border and preventing rocket attacks by “rebellious” terror groups, were deployed on Sunday to at least two different points along the border, Hadashot TV news reported.
The report said the move was likely due to tensions between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and was intended to restore Hamas’s control of the border. On Friday, a member of the latter group mistakenly hurled a grenade at a group of Hamas fighters, killing one and injuring several others.
Despite the apparent effort to project calm, a report from the Kan public broadcaster said Hamas has been in a state of heightened readiness over the past month and has stepped up training for its military wing, in case of an armed conflict with Israel.
The Kan report said, however, that Israel’s defense establishment believes Hamas will forgo fighting in favor of improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which faces a lack of electricity, drinking water, and proper sewage treatment.
Since March 30, weekly clashes have taken place on the Gaza border, with Israel accusing Hamas of using the demonstrations as cover to carry out attacks and attempt to breach the security fence. The “March of Return” protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.
The Hamas-run healthy ministry says 136 people have been killed since the start of the clashes. Many of those killed have been acknowledged as members of terror groups.