Photo: Motti Kimchi
Hamas is strengthening its ties with the Shiite axis led by Iran and is attempting to establish a foothold in Lebanon under Tehran's auspices, Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman told government ministers in a briefing Sunday.
Argaman noted that although Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 brought on "the quietest period in the (Gaza) Strip in three decades," this was a "deceptive calm."
"Hamas is in dire straits strategically, has difficulty presenting diplomatic achievements or providing effective solutions to the crises in the Gaza Strip," the Shin Bet director said. "The civilian-economic difficulties in the Gaza Strip are worsening, including the reconstruction of the strip, poor public infrastructure (water, electricity), a rise in unemployment and a salary crisis."
He explained Hamas was investing considerable resources in preparing for the next confrontation, even at the expense of the citizenry's welfare.
On another front, Argaman noted the Shin Bet was able to thwart 70 terror attacks in July and August, with about 200 attacks foiled in total by the agency since the beginning of the year.
"Despite the relative calm, the security situation in the West Bank is fragile, and it is characterized by high sensitivity to events of a religious nature and frequent reoccurrence of terror attacks," said the Shin Bet chief. "The examination of the scope of terrorism attests to a high threat level from the 'institutionalized' terrorist organizations as well as independent attackers."
According to Argaman, Hamas plays a major role in those attacks. "Hamas, under the direction of the movement's headquarters in the Gaza Strip and abroad, continues to lead the effort to launch terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, with the aim of undermining stability in these areas," he said. "In practice, in the past year, Hamas has employed dozens of inter-regional coordinators to promote relentless attacks against Israel's home front, originating from Judea and Samaria."
Ahead of the upcoming High Holy Days, Argaman cautioned that "During this period, which is highly sensitive every year, both terror organizations and individuals are expected to increase their efforts to carry out terrorist attacks. The Shin Bet, together with its partners in the IDF and Israel Police, is making preperations to allow the citizens of Israel a safe holiday period."