Hamas’ military wing has been vigorously repairing the damage from last summer's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, including investing great efforts in rebuilding its system of tunnels. The first such public indication of this was the arrest this week of three Israelis — two businessmen and a resident of a community on the Gaza periphery. The three men are suspected of having supplied Hamas with metal bars and sheet metal for construction, electric and electronic devices, communications equipment and various other industrial materials that were smuggled clandestinely into Gaza.
The charges filed against them March 2 at the Beersheba District Court allege that the defendants built a business infrastructure to fund the smuggling, involving purchases as well as payments, via several banks in the West Bank in a bid to circumvent the tight supervision of commodities entering Gaza. It is claimed that the three concealed prohibited equipment inside containers whose content was authorized for transit, thereby bypassing inspection. Their arrest provided Israel with proof of Hamas' motivation and rapid regrouping to revive its tunnel project, which is also an indication of preparations for the next armed confrontation with Israel.