Merely two weeks after Ynet first reported on the Hamas-run construction of a new border road in Gaza, which runs parallel to IDF positions, armed members of Hamas where seen conducting armed vehicle patrols on the road.
The pictures appear to show the armed men, who belong to either the military or internal security wing of Hamas, conducting operational patrols on jeeps in broad daylight. It is not yet clear whether the patrols are a mere provocative show of force or intelligence gathering missions.
The security fence and an IDF position are clearly visible in the background of the photos.
It seems as though Hamas has made a point of creating 'facts on the ground', and thus make the patrols a regular occurrence, while testing the IDF's reaction.
Three days after the publication of the construction works, Hamas gave its first official reaction to the project. Fathi Hamad, the former interior minister of the Hamas government in Gaza, said the road was being built by Hamas’s military wing.
Hamad stated that the construction would continue until the hour of use would arise, highlighting the project’s military purpose.
A few days later Hamas’s official website reported that the IDF had tried and failed to stop the organization’s military wing from continuing the construction of the road with multiple bulldozers and armored vehicles.
The construction work, which has been documented by different sources inside the Strip, has been secured by armed uniformed men belonging to the organization's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
At the time, Israeli officials reacted harshly to the report. Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, placed the blame squarely on the prime minister and defense minister.
"The Hamas report is like yelling in a megaphone to a prime minister who insists on being deaf,” Lieberman stated. “The Israeli government is burying its head in the sand, and if a tragedy ensues, the writing is on the wall - the prime minister and defense minister cannot free themselves of responsibility.”