Gaza Powder Keg Set to Explode

At least 90 rockets have been launched from the Gaza Strip, including 35 on November 5, since the June 19 tahdiyeh (calm) was announced between Hamas and Israel. According to recent analysis, terror groups in Gaza have undergone a massive buildup in training and arms, and have expanded their tunnel networks for smuggling.

One representative for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees told the London newspaper Asharq al-Awsat that terrorists have used the tahdiyeh "to train in the abduction of [Israeli] soldiers and martial arts," and he threatened Israel with "unpleasant surprises."

Israeli authorities have no illusions about the tahdiyeh. They understand that Hamas is practicing the Islamic concept of sabr (patience), which permits and even recommends Muslims to suspend jihad until they are in a position of strength. As Hamas leader Khaled Mashal told one al-Jazeera journalist, "The tahdiyeh is a tactical means. It is a step within the resistance. ... It is a process of ebb and flow, going up and down. This is how you run a battle."

Hamas is now believed to have stockpiled thousands of rockets and to have trained some 20,000 fighters. It also possesses sophisticated anti-tank devices and roadside bombs to target Israeli vehicles. So, as renewed conflict draws nearer, Israel is analyzing the threat Hamas poses and evaluating three options.