Islamic Hamas militants have smuggled 40 tons of weapons into the Gaza Strip since the group wrested control of the territory in June, sharply increasing its arsenal, according to the latest Israeli intelligence assessment.
A top intelligence official told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday that Hamas is growing increasingly motivated to carry out attacks on Israeli targets. The Haaretz newspaper reported yesterday that security officials fear Hamas' exiled leadership in Syria is working to renew suicide attacks against Israel in an effort to derail peace efforts by Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli officials said Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are to meet in Jerusalem today, in the latest of a series of get-togethers meant to boost the Palestinian leader in his power struggle with Hamas and to lay the groundwork for resuming peace talks.
Hamas' motivation to attack Israel has grown since the Gaza takeover because of the group's international isolation and failure to open Gaza crossings clamped shut by Israel and Egypt, the deputy chief of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency told Cabinet ministers on Sunday.
The explosives Hamas has smuggled into Gaza accounts for about half of the overall amount of weapons sneaked into the territory since Israel evacuated it two years ago, he added.
Army Radio quoted Israeli security officials as expressing anger with Egypt for failing to honor an anti-smuggling agreement. "The Egyptians are speaking with a forked tongue," Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told the radio.
Hezbollah has 20,000 rockets
Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said yesterday that the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon has some 20,000 rockets in its arsenal, significantly more than it did before a war with Israel last year.
The rockets are located far from the border with Israel, north of the Litani river but within striking range of Israel, Barak told the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to participants in the closed meeting.
Source: China Daily/Agencies