Hamas returns rocket-prevention forces to action

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tuesday, Hamas announced it was deploying its special rocket-prevention security forces in the Gaza Strip. Recent reports said Hamas withdrew the force to protest Israeli attacks.

The rocket-prevention force includes 600 Hamas operatives and started its activity after the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, during the last escalation between the two in late 2012. The force's job is to prevent rocket shooting from the Gaza Strip to Israel and so to ensure the continuation of the ceasefire between the two.

Lately there has been an escalation in the tension between Hamas and Israel, expressed by Israeli attacks and in rocket shooting from Gaza. These incidents have raised questions regarding the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire agreement between the sides.

Regarding the force's return to activity, Islam Shahwan, Hamas interior ministry spokesperson, said his office, in charge of the force's operation, is acting to "secure and fortify the home front and the agreements approved by resistance factions to realize our people's interests, security and stability" and said in addition, "We will not allow anyone to break the truce. This force is meant to protect our internal bloc".

However, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Major Avichay Adraee told the Xinhua News Agency, "The army will respond strongly to any rockets coming from Gaza. We will not let this continue". He said the IDF holds Hamas responsible for any attacks from Gaza.