Less than four months after the Aug. 26 conclusion of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, Hamas’ military wing is preparing for its next campaign against Israel, showing marked signs of bouncing back. On three consecutive days, Dec. 11-13, Hamas fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea in a series of tests it has been conducting this month. Residents of the Gaza Strip as well as Israelis living along the Gaza border reported hearing rockets whizzing and seeing plumes of smoke over the sea. All told, Hamas conducted dozens of launches in broad daylight, knowing full well that Israel would be aware of them, monitoring the situation vigilantly.

Not trying to hide or play down the tests, senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk confirmed that his organization was testing Qassam rockets. He argued that the tests did not violate the cease-fire agreement between Gaza and Israel because the understandings did not stipulate that Hamas was barred from conducting them.

Israeli defense officials maintained that Hamas wanted to rebuild its launching capabilities, which were seriously compromised during the summer confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Hamas is trying to learn lessons from the fact that hundreds of rockets fired at Israel during Operation Protective Edge caused no serious harm due to their poor accuracy on the one hand and the success of the Iron Dome missile defense system on the other. The assessment in Gaza is that to create a significant deterrence, the organization’s rocket lineup has to be drastically improved.[…]