Intelligence officials have expressed concern over the expanding Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip and expect a confrontation with the Israel Defense forces in the very near future. Hamas has been building a trained and armed force of over 7,500 fighters which is not just a large guerilla force but a very organized military force. This emerging Hamas army has several specialized units that include an anti-tank unit, a sniper unit, a short- and long-range missile unit, among many others.
According to intelligence sources once this Hamas army will reach operational capacity, if the flow of military experts, money and arms into the Gaza Strip is not stopped, it will be capable of confronting the IDF as soon as this next summer.
Military sources have said that with the rise of the Hamas government, the strengthening of the Hamas army has been a calculated attribute of a long-term plan that has not stopped for one day since their establishment.
Internal struggles as well as Israel Defense Forces operations have not hindered the moving forward of the Hamas plan. Short-term missiles are being manufactured in Gaza, and there is evidence of anti-tank missiles entering the Gaza Strip on a regular basis.
The capabilities of the Hamas army against the Israeli army are both offensive as well as defensive. Part of its offensive capability is the result of the numerous tunnels that run from Gaza into Israel. Israel has not been able to estimate exactly the number of tunnels overall, but there were several dozen that were discovered near the Gaza Strip town of Dahaniya. Three of the tunnel openings were found by Egypt and the Israel Air Force destroyed another three. The tunnels were very sophisticated, professionally quarried, and fully equipped with tracks and wheeled carts.
According to Israeli military sources, a decision will have to be made soon how to deal with this growing military force in the Gaza Strip.