Hamas is signaling that it is prepared to defend the Gaza Strip against Israeli forces, according to a Washington-based think tank.
The Israeli military on Thursday said it had dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza since the start of the war. Israel says it is striking Hamas targets, but many civilians in the besieged strip have been killed.
The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 2,300 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting erupted, according to The Associated Press. More than 1,300 Israelis have also been killed, the agency said.
Israel has cut off the flow of food, medicine, water and electricity into Gaza, and told the estimated 1 million residents in the north to move south ahead of an imminent ground offensive.
Meanwhile, Hamas continued its ground and rocket attacks on Israel, primarily in the south, on Saturday, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in an update alongside maps showing the locations of reported rocket attacks.
Hamas’ military wing Al-Qassam Brigades “claimed responsibility for conducting rocket attacks on 12 locations, including Tel Aviv,” the ISW wrote.
One map shows a rocket had been some 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 militant group, claimed responsibility for launching rockets on 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 stockpile and prepare for a prolonged war.”
The institute also said Palestinian militants are “continuing limited attempts to infiltrate southern Israel via land and sea.”
They engaged in “small arms clashes” with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at least four times on Israeli territory surrounding the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the ISW said.
“These militants used an anti-tank missile in one of these instances. The IDF Navy separately interdicted speedboats trying to enter Israeli territory,” the update said.
The institute said it had recorded 13 small arms clashes in the West Bank on Saturday, a significant drop from the 32 recorded on Friday. “Israeli forces are conducting arrest campaigns in the West Bank, which may be contributing to the reduced violence.”
Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group—whose fighters have exchanged fire with Israel in recent days—are “messaging that Hamas is prepared to defend the Gaza Strip effectively against the IDF,” the ISW wrote, noting that the Palestinian group had published messages on Saturday “boasting about its anti-armor capabilities and defensive preparations.”
The institute and the Israeli Ministry of Defense have been contacted for further comment via email.