The Hamas terrorist organization has test-fired a missile that could hit Tel Aviv from Gaza, according to the IDF's Military Intelligence (AMAN) chief.
Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, AMAN head Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin
Iran is not alone in supporting local jihadist elements, Yadlin noted.
revealed the details of the successful missile test. The projectile was fired out to sea off the Gaza coast in recent days, he explained, saying that IDF observers recorded the impact 60 kilometers (37 miles) away from the launch site. The missile, produced by Iran, can thus reach the Dan region, including metropolitan Tel Aviv, bringing the major coastal city within range of attacks from Gaza.
Just last year, IDF intelligence projected that Hamas would be capable of independently producing missiles with a 50-kilometer range. The Israeli assessment was based on evidence that the Iranian regime would provide the know-how and necessary supplies for the longer range projectiles. Iran, it is believed, wants to enable Hamas to endanger Tel Aviv, Israel's largest city and economic center.
Smuggled in Via Tunnels
According to the AMAN assessment divulged on Tuesday, Hamas, the jihadist group currently ruling the Gaza half of the Palestinian Authority, received the test-fired missile by way of underground smuggling tunnels. Hamas has dug and controls a network of such tunnels running under the border between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai.
"Hamas does not want a confrontation with Israel at this time," Yadlin added, "so that it can continue to fortify its civil control in the Gaza Strip."
In the North
Turning to the situation on Israel's northern border, Maj.-Gen. Yadlin said that the Hizbullah terror organization continues to receive weapons and supplies from Iran as well. A portion of this growing cache, he explained, is in southern Lebanon. The area south of the Litani River in Lebanon is meant to be free of Hizbullah weapons, a ban ostensibly enforced by United Nations peacekeepers according to a 2006 Lebanon-Israel agreement.
One week ago, a senior Lebanese army officer revealed that his soldiers identified and dismantled four rockets near the border with Israel. The source said that the rockets, three of which were ready for launching at Israel, were found in a village construction site.
Iran is not alone in supporting local jihadist elements, Yadlin noted. Syria has become the leading factory for weaponry shipped to Iran-backed terror groups in the Middle East, he said. AMAN assesses that Syria is playing a two-faced game in which it sells weapons to terrorists out the back door while presenting a moderate face to the West.
A Direct Result of the Gush Katif Expulsion
Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that the AMAN report is not news. It seems to him more like "gossip," he quipped in an interview with IsraelNN TV.
"There is no doubt [that the Hamas missile threat] is the result of the expulsion from Gush Katif and the establishment of the State of Hamas, which poses a threat to the State of Israel," Ben-Ari stated.
Military Intelligence should have been loudly and clearly warning of the dangers of the current situation before the removal of the Jews from Gaza, Ben-Ari explained. "We don't need AMAN to inform the Knesset after the fact that there was a missile test. ...We don't need gossip, we need warnings."
The MK said that he demands AMAN undertake an internal investigation to relearn "exactly what their function is."