The still before the Hamas storm?

Masked gunmen from the Qassam brigade, the military wing of Hamas (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

In the entire year of 2016, not one Israeli was killed in a terror attack emanating from the Gaza Strip, the head of the Internal Security Service noted on Monday, warning that this was not due to peace prospects.

“I have to say that the quiet we have been experiencing since 2016, this comparative quiet, is a misleading quiet, it deceives and intoxicates, and this is for one simple reason: The terrorist infrastructures of Hamas and the global jihad are working every day to carry out terror attacks within the State of Israel,” Nadav Argaman, head of Israel’s Shin Bet, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Select Committee.

Argaman identified as the shifting sands underlying Hamas’ recent operations as increasing agitation in the West Bank, rearming after Operation Protective Edge and its Iranian benefactor now awash with billions of American dollars following the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

“We are currently experiencing significant geo-strategic changes which will be significant for many years to come due to a power struggle, resulting from the Iran nuclear deal and its impact on terrorism in the Middle East,” he said

Argaman also warned the Israeli public of potential attacks over the upcoming Passover holiday, April 11-17.

“Pesach is approaching and there is no doubt that terror cells, especially the organized ones, will incite violence and seek to perpetrate attacks,” he said.

Despite Hamas’s shifting focus from Gaza to the West Bank, Shin Bet has not been lulled into a false sense of security. In 2016 the intelligence agency broke up 114 terror cells (44 more than in 2015), arrested 1,035 suspected terrorists and thwarted 184 attempted shootings, 16 suicide bombings, 16 kidnappings and a number of other various attacks.

Argaman noted the instability of Gaza is perpetuated by mass unemployment, as well as electric and water shortages. Hamas was recently criticized by Qatar’s special envoy to Gaza, Muhammad al Amadi, for “failing to improve the lives’ of the citizens it governs.”  

Argaman added that Hamas is building up to “optimal readiness” in its wider conflict with Israel and is currently recruiting fighters.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    ‘May those who love you be secure.
 May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.’
 For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.”
Psalm 122:6-9