TEL AVIV – The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for the possibility of a future conflict breaking out with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated on Monday.
“We’ve been preparing for the possibility that at some point a front will be opened in the south, and we’ll have to deal with it,” Ya’alon said. “We’re not stagnate and we operate both with defensive and offensive measures.”
Hamas is experiencing some setbacks in its drive to upgrade its missile arsenal while the terrorist group is hard at work constructing a new tunnel infrastructure, the defense minister explained.
“We’ve been enjoying unprecedented quiet, Hamas hasn’t fired one bullet,” Ya’alon said.
“It’s growing in power, we didn’t think otherwise,” he added. “Hamas is trying to arm itself with rockets but it’s having difficulties importing (rockets) as it did before and it has to manufacture them. That is why they’re conducting all of the tests of firing rockets into the sea. There is also a shortage of materials to manufacture rockets with and they’re trying to improvise – and of course digging defensive and offensive tunnels, we are not fooling ourselves to think that they aren’t.”
Ya’alon made the comments aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Carney, which is currently docked in the Haifa Port to take part in the U.S.-Israel biennial joint ballistic missile defense exercise codenamed Juniper Cobra 16.
The drill, Ya’alon said, is “yet another example of the very special and deep relationship between our great ally, the United States, and Israel.”
Ya’alon’s comments about Hamas manufacturing its own rockets in Gaza follows a previous exclusive Breitbart Jerusalem article documenting Hamas has been hard at work attempting to manufacture rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv, according to security sources here familiar with the matter.
During the Israel-Gaza War of 2014, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza fired dozens of rockets toward Tel Aviv and satellite cities. Some rockets fired by Hamas were manufactured inside the Gaza Strip. Others were reportedly Iran-provided Grad and Fajr rockets.
Israel, meanwhile, is not the only player in the region preparing for a possible war.
Earlier this month, Breitbart Jerusalem quoted a top Hamas official stating Hamas has drafted an “emergency” plan to be implemented in another conflict with Israel.
The Hamas leadership assumes that another round of violence is only a matter of time, the official said, due to Israel’s public reaction to Hamas’s tunnel network in the Gaza Strip
Amid reports of fresh Hamas tunneling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to hit the Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip harder than during the 2014 war, which started after Hamas launched multiple rockets into Israeli territory.
“In the event we are attacked from tunnels in the Gaza Strip, we will act very forcefully against Hamas, and with much more force than Operation Protective Edge,” Netanyahu said three weeks ago.
In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of Hamas tunnels collapsing while the terrorist group was reportedly working to refurbish their underground system.
Ismail Haniyeh, the movement’s former prime minister, vowed last month to continue building tunnels to attack the Jewish state.
“The Hamas military wing will continue with its preparations both underground and above ground,” Haniyeh declared. “On land and at sea, we will not stop until the liberation of the holy places [in Jerusalem].”
Gaza-based Hamas leader Zahar boasted that Hamas tunnels “reach deep into the territory occupied in 1948. … The [tunnels] reach [further] than Gaza.”
Breitbart Jerusalem previously reported that Hamas is in the process of building a sophisticated network of tunnels beneath the Gaza Strip, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the issue.
The tunnel infrastructure mirrors the network built by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iran-sponsored militia is known to have dug a vast underground tunnel complex replete with war rooms, internal communication lines, ventilation systems, and even missile silos.
Israel destroyed a significant portion of Hamas’ previous tunnel system during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.