CATF Reports Mar. 18, 2016, 9:01am

Recent reports by The Times of Israel and Foreign Policy remind us that Hamas is continually increasing efforts to establish an infrastructure of terror in Palestine and Israel. In recent years, the infrastructure of Hamas has become more sophisticated, taking place both above and below ground, and is even able to be run from remote locations. This is the certainly case of Hamas’s West Bank Bureau, which mostly operates from Gaza, and yet directs the operations of a, recently thwarted, Hamas cell in Hebron.

Remotely located Hamas commanders are nothing new, as is the case with Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas officer known for his ability to mastermind attacks from foreign locations like Qatar and Turkey (where al-Arouri currently resides with impunity). The lack of international cooperation on countering the Hamas threat means that people like al-Arouri, who is alleged to have orchestrated the June 2014 abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers and starting the 50 days war between Israel and Palestine, are able to continue to have a hand in strengthening the Hamas organization and in orchestrating terror and suicide bombings against Israel. Because of the lack of global assistance, over the past few years, Hamas attacks have become almost unmanageable.

Terrorist attacks are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate in Israel. In the first seven months of 2015 alone, Israeli security forces foiled 17 suicide bombing attempts. The rate of attacks is growing to such a degree that it is not always possible for security forces to intercept them. While a terror attack might be foiled one week another one will successfully deploy the next. In the first week of March, Palestinian security services interrupted a Hamas cell in Hebron, and arrested operatives as they planned to carry out mass shootings and kidnappings. Then, on March 8, less than a week later, three simultaneous terrorist attacks occurred in Israel in just one day. A dozen police and civilians were shot or stabbed, and an American student from Vanderbilt died from knife wounds. Indeed, detecting and foiling the terror plots of Hamas have become a full time around the clock job for Palestinian and Israeli security forces.

In particular, it is underground where Hamas appears to have the distinct advantage over Israeli and Palestinian security forces. As the writers at Foreign Policy note, it is difficult to gain traction when more effort goes into strengthening underground tunnels than to rebuild homes and businesses demolished by the war in 2014. While the U.S. has invested $40 million in a project called the “Underground Iron Dome,” which could stake out and destroy cross border underground tunnels, it is clear that more can be done to stop Hamas. Without aid from the international community, without a global effort to disarm and disband Hamas operatives both in and outside Palestine, terror will continue to reign down upon Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.

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