"The new situation in the Gaza Strip obligates us to act differently at sea. There are threats that did not exist in the past. We recognize this, and are ready in accordance," a military source said Thursday night, responding to the report that Hamas had established a naval force in Gaza.
Hamas' navy is headed by senior Hamas commander Jamil al-Dahashan, who previously served as a Hamas special forces commander in south Gaza City.
The force is aimed at securing the shores from IDF marine operations as well as criminal activity of drug dealers.
Although the force does not as yet own any marine vessels, Israel
is responding to the matter with the utmost gravity.
The Israeli navy suffered a difficult hit during the Second Lebanon War, when an anchored navy gunship was directly hit in a missile attack, killing four soldiers, and thus is taking no risks regarding Gaza.
According to military sources, new instructions have recently been handed down to Israeli patrol ship crews on how to deal with the threat of an attack by terror organizations using various marine vessels currently in their possession.
These instructions were given in light of intelligence information verifying the possibility of an attack on an Israeli Navy ship. The sources said the Navy’s activity, which is aimed mainly at preventing the smuggling of arms from Egypt into Gaza and intercepting terrorists attempting to infiltrate Israel by sea, has not been hindered.
“The security fence in Gaza serves as a serious barrier against terrorists, so it is only natural that they would try to reach Israel by sea,” an IDF official told Ynet. He admitted that there has recently been an increase in “incidents” off the Gaza coastline.
The military sources added that Hamas may also attempt to open fire at Israeli ships from the Strip itself, use a booby-trapped fishing boat or even a diver with an explosive device.
“We are not taking these threats lightly,” one officer said. “We cannot determine whether the terror groups have established a navy or not, but they definitely intend to attack any Israeli target, including naval forces positioned the area.”