"Hamas took a gamble. We thought, at worst Israel will come and do something from the air - superficial."
The so-called "Iranian Unit" of Hamas has been destroyed, according to Gaza sources cited Thursday by the Haaretz daily. The sources said most of the unit's 100 members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood of Gaza City.
The terrorists had been trained in infantry tactics, the use of anti-tank missiles and the detonation of explosives, among other skills, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at Hizbullah camps in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley, as well as sites in Iran.
The IDF Southern Command has reportedly stepped up ground operations in Gaza, in anticipation of a ceasefire declaration in the near future. Senior officers said Thursday that there are probably no more than a few days until the end of the fighting.
According to the Arab sources, when that happens Iran will send money to assist Hamas in restoring its military capabilities, in addition to the more widely-publicized program of rebuilding destroyed homes.
Hamas: We Didn't Expect it
Two captured terrorists interviewed by Maariv/NRG say that Hamas was not expecting Israel's response to the escalation in missile attacks on Israeli targets that preceded Operation Cast Lead. One of them, a 52-year-old victim of a premature detonation who had already done time in an Israeli jail, said, "Hamas took a gamble. We thought, at worst Israel will come and do something from the air - something superficial. They'll come in and go out. We never thought that we would reach the point where fear will swallow the heart and the feet will want to flee. You [Israel] are fighting like you fought in '48. What got into you all of a sudden?"
The second terrorist, a 21-year-old, said Hamas brought order to Gaza, but also brought fear. He noted that it was dangerous in Gaza for non-Hamas members, citing an instance of his being beaten and another in which he saw a friend killed when he went to get gas. "Now they're all gone," he said. "There have been no Hamasniks in the streets since the start of the campaign."