Worrisome escalations in arms stockpiling by Hamas and Hizbullah have convinced defense analysts that another war with Israel is on the horizon this year or in 2011, according to the highly respected Aviation Week.
The publication relied on intelligence estimates that the two terrorist organizations, sponsored by Iran and Syria, have armed themselves far beyond their stockpiles of 2006, when both Hamas and Hizbullah kidnapped Israeli soldiers within a three-week period. The Hizbullah abduction of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev came during a missile attack on the north and led Israel into the 34-day Second Lebanon War. Both soldiers were killed.
Three weeks earlier, Hamas attacked an IDF checkpoint at a Gaza crossing, killed two soldiers and kidnapped Gilad Shalit, who still is presumed alive in captivity.
Aviation Week noted that while Hamas and Hizbullah probably do not want an all-out war now, the current relative calm “may be illusory -- Tehran and Damascus could encourage Hamas and Hizbullah to attack Israel in furtherance of their regional aims." The journal added that "Iran has also threatened retaliation if Israel attacks its nuclear program; and with popular unrest a constant threat to the leadership in Tehran, a war with Israel, fought through Hamas or Hezbollah, could be one way of diverting Iranian public attention away from the regime.”
In the south, Hamas has smuggled in and assembled weapons far more destructive than those they possessed in the past, including advanced anti-aircraft missiles that can down Israeli planes. “Restoring Hamas’s arsenal with advanced ordnance is a major part of Iran’s strategy of targeting Israel from Lebanon and Gaza,” according to Aviation Week.
An Arabic-language Lebanese newspaper affiliated with a Muslim terrorist group has reported that terrorists have been training with the weapons for a year. As previously reported, Hamas is believed to developing capability to fire a missile as far north as metropolitan Tel Aviv.
Hamas also has apparently acquired the same type of advanced anti-tank missiles that Hizbullah used against advance Israeli tanks in the Second Lebanon War. Another factor in the war scenario is the international al-Qaeda global jihad terror organization, whose influence is spreading in Gaza.
While the IDF is always preparing itself for attacks from Gaza, the Hamas control of the Philadelphi smuggling route, including the city of Rafiah that is situated on both sides of the border with Egypt, aggravates Israel’s problem. “Many experts believe that Israel should have targeted Rafiah during Operation Cast Lead instead of deploying troops to Gaza City, a move that might have kept the threat of future conflicts farther in the future,” Aviation Week reported.