TEL AVIV – The head of the Shin Bet security service on Sunday warned that, backed by Iran, Hamas is establishing a base in Lebanon in a bid to strengthen its ties with Tehran’s “Shiite axis.”
Nadav Argaman told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting that the Gaza-based terror group has “continued to invest considerable resources in preparation for a future conflict, even at the cost of its citizens’ welfare” and that at this point Hamas is “ready for a conflict with Israel.”
Argaman said that the past three years following the 2014 Gaza war have been the quietest in “three decades” but added that the calm was “deceptive” and the terror group is concentrating on rearming.
Last month, Hamas’ new prime minister in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said that the terror group had restored its relations with Iran, which were first severed in 2012 over differences regarding Syria.
“Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms,” Sinwar said, according to Reuters. “The relationship today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days. … This will be reflected in the resistance [against Israel] and in [the Hamas] agenda to achieve the liberation.”
He added that Hamas was “not afraid of a war and [is] ready for it.”
“The Iranian military support to Hamas … is strategic,” he said, stating that the relationship has “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”
While Argaman would not specify where in Lebanon Hamas was setting up base, Channel 2 reported that a senior Hamas terrorist, Saleh al-Arouri, has been spotted in a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut.
Argaman also noted that the Shin Bet has thwarted over 70 attacks – including suicide bombings, shootings, and kidnappings – in July and August alone from Palestinian terrorists, many of whom are so-called “lone-wolf” attackers.
According to the security agency chief, Hamas has set up dozens of terror cells in the West Bank with the purpose of carrying out future attacks against Israel. During the past two months, the Shin Bet has dismantled more than 70 such cells.