Hamas militants receive training in Iran: Israel

Dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of Hamas militants recently left the Gaza Strip to receive advanced military training in Iran, Israeli military officials said today.

Jerusalem, Dec 18: Dozens, and perhaps hundreds,
of Hamas militants recently left the Gaza Strip to receive
advanced military training in Iran, Israeli military officials
said today.

The training is similar to that received by thousands
of Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon over the past few years,
and Israel fears it will greatly improve Hamas` military
capability in any future battle with Israeli troops in Gaza,
the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because
they were not authorised to speak on the matter.

Israel waged a five month military offensive in the
Gaza strip over the summer, after Hamas-linked militants
kidnapped an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid.

300 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, most of them
militants, while only one Israeli soldier was killed in the
fighting.

By contrast, 120 Israeli soldiers were killed in
Israel`s summer war with the Iranian-trained Hezbollah
guerrillas in Lebanon. Israel claimed 800 Hezbollah fighters
were killed but that figure was not substantiated. Israel
accused Iran -- the Jewish state`s archenemy -- of training
Hezbollah and using the guerrilla group as a proxy army to
attack Israel.

The mass training of Hamas fighters in Iran is a new
development reflecting the growing alliance between Shiite
Iran and the Sunni Hamas movement, Israel warned.

Bureau Report

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