Head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet/Shabak) Yoram Cohen warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Hamas is already prepared to launch another terror war against Israel, just a year on from last summer's war with Israel .
Cohen and other ISA officials gave a complete picture of the happenings in the terrorist enclave of Gaza, as well as the terrorist threat nationwide.
They noted that since 2012 there has been a 50% rise each year in the number of total terror attacks, from 683 in 2012 to 1,834 in 2014. The most major uptick in attacks occurred around Operation Protective Edge last summer.
In 2014 around 130 terror cells were exposed, most of them from Hamas, and in 2015 no less than 60 terror cells have already been nabbed.
ISA officials noted that centralized terror networks are having trouble conducting attacks as a result of intensive efforts by security services, and that as a result most of the attacks in Judea and Samaria last year were conducted by Arab terrorists apparently operating alone.
It was also pointed out that the security cooperation with Israel has allowed the Palestinian Authority (PA) to survive threats from its rival Hamas, which last summer attempted to stage a coup in Judea and Samaria.
ISA argued that international involvement has intensified the conflict, claiming that Arab residents in Judea and Samaria are more focused on their financial welfare and consequently are passive regarding a potential clash with Israel.
Cohen remarked on the unprecedented concessions Israel made for the Muslim fast month of Ramadan in terms of ease of access; Ramadan has been characterized by a remarkable uptick in Arab terrorist attacks.
He noted that Israel eased entry to the Temple Mount for Arabs from Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and likewise eased the security check by allowing the PA to conduct the checks, as well as lowering the age for Arab visitors to the Mount. He said the PA did not implement all of the "gestures."
Hamas is ready for war
Turning his attention to Gaza, Cohen said that the Hamas terrorist organization is in a state of strategic crisis and is having its rule eroded, as residents backlash to the damage caused by Hamas's latest terror war.
The ISA head noted that most of the international funds promised to reconstruct Gaza never arrived, partially due to a conflict between the PA and Hamas over authority in the region and control of the border crossings which has chased global donors away.
Cohen said that Israel has been pushing to reconstruct Gaza, and in essence is the only central source that is encouraging and advancing the reconstruction of Gaza – despite the fact that the Hamas rulers of Gaza have the genocide of all Jews written into their charter.
Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has been accelerating its military preparations for another confrontation with Israel, Cohen said.
Those preparations have consisted of Hamas rebuilding its terror attack tunnels leading into Israel, developing domestically produced missiles, increasing drills and trainings on land, sea and air, as well as continued efforts to receive military aid from Iran.
However, Cohen said Hamas is not ready at the present moment to launch another war against Israel, although Hamas has already reconstructed the means to wage a serious campaign against the Jewish state even if its effectiveness would be limited.
Cohen emphasized that Hamas is siphoning off construction materials meant for the rebuilding of civilian structures so as to rebuild military facilities damaged in last summer's war.