Shin Bet Head Yoram Cohen

The head of the Israel Security Agency, Yoram Cohen, told the Knesset that Hamas is rebuilding in Gaza but is not yet prepared to start another war with Israel.

Palestinians march with rockets in Gaza. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas members march with rockets in Gaza. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas is rebuilding its military capability in Gaza but is not in good-enough shape to renew fighting with Israel, Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet, told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday.

According to Cohen, Hamas’s power has been weakened, and the continued internal feud between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas is the main barrier to Gaza reconstruction.

According to Cohen, Hamas is working steadily to recover from Operation Protective Edge, including rebuilding smuggling tunnels, developing and producing new rockets and conducting military training. The terrorist organization is also trying to convince Iran to increase its funding. However, when asked if Hamas is likely to attack Israel in the near future, Cohen said it was unlikely as it is not yet prepared.

Cohen also indicated that Hamas is in strategic distress in terms of its control of Gaza, which is maintained primarily through a combination of fear tactics and a lack of political alternatives. Palestinians in Gaza are afraid to express dissent lest they be imprisoned. Furthermore, there is dissatisfaction with the pace of reconstruction, which has been slow primarily due to the conflict between Hamas and the PA, including Hamas’s refusal to allow the PA to staff the border crossings into Gaza.

Security cooperation with Israel, according to Cohen, is critical for ensuring the PA survives in the face of Hamas’s activities outside of Gaza.

In reference to the recent series of Ramadan terrorist attacks, Cohen noted an increase in “folk terror” attacks, in contrast with those planned by terror organizations. The number of such attacks has been increasing by 50 percent annually for the past several years, from 683 in 2012 to 1,834 in 2014. Organized terrorist plots numbered 130 in 2014, with 60 in the first six months of 2015.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel