Tuesday, October 31, 2006

IDF worried Hamas may build anti-tank division - Haaretz

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Here is the next crisis or the crisis after next. Israel is literally in political meltdown and for sure something nasty is going to happen soon. They have to do something, anything to rustle up a little "shock and awe". DS

IDF worried Hamas may build anti-tank division - Haaretz

Hamas could feasibly establish a military division of some 10,000 soldiers with an operational force similar to Hezbollah's if it continues to strengthen at its current pace, Israel Defense Forces GOC Southern Command Yoav Glant said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will convene his political-security cabinet on Wednesday to discuss the IDF's policy in the Gaza Strip and work out responses to ongoing incidents of Palestinian Qassam fire and arms smuggling.

Sources said no decisions would be made on expanding the IDF's current operation until Olmert's return from the United States in two weeks.

Glant told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hamas could bolster its forces to include anti-tank divisions and commandos, and could gain access to advanced weapons systems as well as night-vision apparatus.

The IDF is preparing to weaken Hamas' efforts, but the plan must first be approved at the political level, Glant said. Hamas is currently in its first phase of force building and does not yet have these advanced capabilities or a hierarchical system of divisions and brigades, he said.

The southern command chief said that the IDF's current operations in and around the Gaza Strip are mainly defensive, aimed at quelling any immediate threats posed to Israeli citizens from Qassam rockets and terror organizations. He emphasized that that the army was awaiting goverment approval before operating to weaken Hamas' plans for bolstering its forces.

Delegates to the meeting on Monday said that the picture drawn for them by Major Glant was worrisome. MK Effi Eitam (National Union - NRP) said, "IDF is busy with routine security measures in the Gaza Strip, and is not dealing with strategic problems," adding that militants in Gaza have been smuggling military-grade weapons through hundreds of tunnels.

Defense sources said that Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz approved on Sunday a series of new operations to be carried out in the Gaza Strip in the coming days, though the extent of the operations does not differ from its current actions.

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