According to a Washington-based think tank, Hamas is signaling that it is ready to defend the Gaza Strip against Israeli forces.
On October 7, Hamas militants stormed into nearby Israeli towns from the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing civilians and kidnapping others in the deadliest militant attack in Israel’s history.
Israel responded with the heaviest airstrikes ever on Gaza, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising a response that Hamas would remember “for decades to come.”
The Israeli military said Thursday it had dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza since the war began. Israel says it is attacking Hamas targets, but many civilians in the besieged strip have been killed.
According to the Associated Press, Gaza’s health ministry said more than 2,300 Palestinians have been killed since fighting broke out. More than 1,300 Israelis were also killed, the agency said.
Israel has cut off the flow of food, medicine, water and electricity to Gaza and urged its estimated one million residents in the north to move south ahead of an impending ground offensive.
Meanwhile, Hamas continued its ground and rocket attacks on Israel on Saturday, especially in the south, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in an update along with maps showing the locations of the reported rocket attacks.
Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, “claimed responsibility for carrying out rocket attacks on 12 locations, including Tel Aviv,” the ISW wrote.
A map shows that a rocket had flown about 30 miles from Gaza into Israeli territory near the city of Beersheba. The graphic also showed attacks near the cities of Ashdod, Ramla and Tel Aviv.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based militant group, claimed responsibility for firing rockets at seven locations in southern Israel.
According to the think tank, Hamas has reduced its rate of rocket fire into Israeli territory since Thursday to “conserve its supplies and prepare for a prolonged war.”
The institute also said that Palestinian militants “continue to make limited attempts to enter southern Israel by land and sea.”
According to ISW, there were at least four “small arms clashes” with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Israeli territory around the Gaza Strip on Saturday.
“These militants used an anti-tank missile in one of these cases. The IDF Navy separately interdicted speedboats that attempted to enter Israeli territory,” the update said.
The institute said it recorded 13 small arms clashes in the West Bank on Saturday, a significant decrease from the 32 on Friday. “Israeli forces are conducting arrest campaigns in the West Bank, which may help reduce violence.”
Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group – whose fighters have engaged in a firefight with Israel in recent days – are sending “the message that Hamas is prepared to effectively defend the Gaza Strip against the IDF,” the ISW wrote, noting that the Palestinian group had released messages on Saturday. boasts of its anti-tank capabilities and defensive preparations.”
The institute and the Israeli Defense Ministry were contacted via email for further comment.