The Israeli Defense Forces are monitoring Hamas attempts to rebuild its fighting battalions in the northern Gaza Strip, which the army had declared as stripped of military capabilities, with some battalions significantly restored.
The IDF has been downsizing its reserve forces in the northern Gaza Strip in recent weeks, and in the past few days has begun pulling back regular-duty forces, including parts of the Golani Brigade, armored brigades and special units.
Division 162 remains in the northern Gaza Strip to secure the large area which, when the IDF’s ground maneuver began, was the territory of several of Hamas’ battalions, including the a-Shati, Shujaiyeh and Jabalya battalions.
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[The Haaeretz Report continues]
Earlier this week, the Air Force and the army’s 5th Brigade attacked in a-Shati, after the IDF had declared that it had completed the neighborhood’s occupation and had incapacitated the battalion.
In the same encounter, the army killed nine terrorists who were preparing for an attack on IDF forces in the area. The army announced on Wednesday that its forces had returned to operating in the a-Shati camp, killing terrorists and destroying terror infrastructure.
Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi warned political leadership behind closed doors that the IDF was facing the “erosion of the achievements it has accomplished so far in the war” because no strategy was put in place for the Gaza Strip after the end of the war. Halevi warned that “we may have to operate again in areas where we have already completed the fighting.”
A senior security official who recently presented the IDF’s view on the extent of the harm to Hamas said that “Hamas suffered a very serious blow to its military wing,” but added: “withdrawing the forces and ending the fighting now will enable Hamas to rehabilitate its military arm in a way that will continue to threaten the IDF and Israel’s Gaza border communities.”
The IDF attempted to minimize the importance of a barrage of 25 rockets fired at the town of Netivot on Tuesday. Some in the army claimed that this was a quick and spontaneous volley which stemmed from Hamas’s fear that the IDF would reach the launchers.
Other defense sources familiar with the events believed that the shooting was indicative of the Hamas’ regained control in the northern Gaza Strip, though not a return to the same capabilities it had on the eve of the war.
The army said on Wednesday that it had demolished a compound in the center of the Gaza Strip from which the barrage was fired. According to the IDF, some of the launch stations in the destroyed compound were loaded with rockets and ready to fire.
View this Haaretz report from January 18th