"The military might of Hamas
in 2010 is equal to that of Hezbollah's
in 2006," an analyst for Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said.
Ibrahim al-Amin, who is affiliated with the Shiite group, wrote "Fighters from Hamas and other (Palestinian) factions have been training for a year on the various uses of anti-aircraft missiles and on how to simultaneously set off a large number of explosives, which would enable it to blow up armored military vehicles the size of a Merkava-type tank."
According to the analyst, the Islamist group also practiced firing mid and long-range missiles, as well bombing Israeli communities "located up to 100 kilometers (about 62 miles)" from Gaza.
In addition, claimed al-Amin, Hamas has trained special units to expose spy networks and gather intelligence on the "occupation army's deployment and weaponry."
"In light of these facts, it is safe to say that the (weapons) in Gaza are equal in their potency to what Hezbollah had on the eve of the (Second Lebanon War),"
"At the time (Hezbollah) did not have the ability to threaten Israel's helicopters, but Israel had admitted that Hamas has been able to acquire anti-helicopter missiles. This will embarrass (Israel) on the battlefield."
Weapons smuggled into Gaza (Archive photo: Aviram Zino)
Al-Amin further claimed that in the past year Hamas fighters "went underground (referring to the construction of bunkers and ditches); this will give it added military capabilities in the face of Israel's aerial superiority."
The analyst said Hamas was in possession of Russian-made RPG-29 anti-tank grenade launchers, which were employed by Hezbollah during the war with Israel, in addition to Kornet anti-tank missiles, "which can destroy a tank from five kilometers about three miles) out."
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Hamas' current capabilities are "better than they were on the eve of Operation Cast Lead,"
adding that Hamas, as well as other Palestinian terror groups, "will continue to grow stronger in 2010."
"Hamas will continue with its efforts to smuggle rockets with a range exceeding 50 kilometers (31 miles) into Gaza, as well as anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missiles and any other type of weapons," he said.
In early November, the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Major-General Amos Yadlin, told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hamas held a successful trial launch of a rocket with a 60 km range.
The rocket, which could reach Tel Aviv from Hamas' stronghold in the Gaza Strip, is apparently Iranian-made.