Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas is manufacturing a “new generation” of rockets and is reconstructing its cross-border tunnels, the London-based Times reported on Monday.
Citing unnamed officials, the report maintained that dozens of “high trajectory projectiles,” which constitute a “new generation of home-produced rockets” have been tested since September. The rockets were fired at the Mediterranean in a series of drills.
It was not immediately clear how the rockets differed from earlier models.
Israeli military officials last year confirmed that Hamas had fired several rockets into the sea in an apparent test.
“The indication suggests Gaza terrorists are experimenting in order to increase rocket launching capabilities,” the IDF said in a statement at the time.
The unnamed officials further said they believe Hamas was reconstructing the cross-border shafts that were destroyed by Israel during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip. It said that the terror group was struggling to replenish its weapons supply, as ties between Iran and Sudan — formerly one its main suppliers — have grown increasingly chilly.
Hamas, meanwhile, is recruiting for a “popular army” and has so far signed up some 2,500 volunteers.
On December 19, Hebrew-language media reported the Hamas terror group has been redoubling its efforts to restore the cross-border offensive tunnels. According to the reports, some of the cement and other materials being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory, as part of an international rebuilding effort, has been diverted to the tunnels. However, military sources told The Times of Israel in December that Hamas was being careful not to divert cement that is being supplied to the Strip for rebuilding.
The Gaza group has also begun restocking its depleted rocket arsenal, the Hebrew media reports said last month. According to the reports, Hamas has acknowledged the limited efficacy of its mid- and longer-range rockets, many of which were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during the war, inflicting very limited civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Hamas has recognized the deadliness of mortar shells, which fall short of Iron Dome’s range.
One new approach that Hamas has been considering in an effort to extend its effective range is to launch large volleys of rockets that would challenge Iron Dome’s ability to fire interceptors in rapid succession, last month’s reports said. It has also been conducting tests, lobbing dozens of rockets into the Mediterranean Sea in recent weeks, according to Ynet, which cited Palestinian Gaza sources in its report.