Hamas fires Qassams for first time since Gaza takeover
After some weeks in which Hamas refrained from launching Qassam rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, members of its armed wing, Iz a Din al-Kassam, have resumed the attacks: During the past two days, at least three rockets were fired at Israel.
One of the likely reasons for the resumption of Hamas involvement in rocket launchings - which have primarily been conducted by Islamic Jihad, Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and members of local clans in the Gaza Strip - is recent activity by the Israel Defense Force in the West Bank. Fearing that a lack of response to the recent killings there of seven Palestinians by Israeli forces would undermine their standing among the Palestinians in the strip, members of the Hamas' military wing decided to resume attacks.
The rocket launchings by the military wing, under the leadership of Ahmed al-Ja'abari, are being carried out contrary to the opinion of the political leadership of the organization.
Meanwhile, in opposition to the orders of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, some 150 members of the National Security organization, originally a Fatah-affiliated group, and some volunteers, were deployed along the Philadelphi Route "to keep order."
In practice these are troops that have deserted to the ranks of Hamas, and were joined by others - Hamas supporters wearing uniforms of the National Security organization.
The new force is commanded by an officer in the National Security, whose identity was not readily available, but who announced to his men that their role would be to maintain law and order along the border with Egypt.
This is an effort meant to reflect the return of stability to the area of the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, which Hamas hopes will lead to the reopening of the border with Egypt. At least 6,000 Palestinians have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the border since the Hamas-Fatah fighting in the strip last month.
Several days ago, the regular Palestinian police force - the "blue" police - was redeployed in the streets of Gaza. This is another force that was under Fatah control and whose rank-and-file chose to desert to Hamas. In this case, too, Hamas filled the force with its own loyalists in order to support efforts to restore law and order.
As Hamas is asserting its control over the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank, forces loyal to Abbas continued arrests of dozens of Hamas activists and the confiscation of arms.
Abbas loyalists say that during the interrogation of Hamas operatives, they learned that the Islamist organization had set in place a dormant Executive Force organization, similar to the group's paramilitary force, which vanquished Fatah in the Gaza Strip.