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Israel Destroys Hamas's "Iranian Unit"

12:43 PM, Jan 16, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
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Goldfarb noted that the captured Hamas fighters have been stunned bey the ferocity of the Israeli assault on Gaza. That same article notes that the Israeli Defense Force has taken out on of Hamas's elite military units:

The so-called "Iranian Unit" of Hamas has been destroyed, according to Gaza sources cited Thursday by the Haaretz daily. The sources said most of the unit's 100 members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood of Gaza City.

The terrorists had been trained in infantry tactics, the use of anti-tank missiles and the detonation of explosives, among other skills, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at Hizbullah camps in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley, as well as sites in Iran.

Israel clearly has had tactical successes against Hamas's military arm. Earlier in the week, an IDF official told Ynet News that Hamas has suffered significant casualties in some areas. "Hundreds of people were killed in the various combat sectors," the officer told the news agency. "Some Hamas companies and battalions were simply wiped out. We also see cases of desertions and unauthorized leaves, while some terror activists are scared to undertake moves that would jeopardize them vis-à-vis IDF troops."

Since the Gaza operation began, multiple rocket cell leaders have been killed, as well as Hamas's "defense minister" and other commanders. The Israeli Air Force has systematically leveled much of Hamas's infrastructure. Hamas's military is estimated to have from 15,000 to 20,000 fighters, but the estimate of hard core fighters is not known. Palestinians in Gaza claimed more than 350 Hamas fighters have been killed so far, but that number may be the lower end of casualty estimates.

The Israeli government has been clear the operation is limited to degrade Hamas's military ability and restore Israel's military deterrence capacity, which many believe was lost during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Israelis have no intention of reoccupying Gaza, which is the only way Hamas can be uprooted.

Negotiations have now come to the fore and it is expected a cease-fire will be signed within the week, if not in days. The IDF would be well served to redouble efforts against Hamas's military before the cease-fire is signed. Not only would this improve the Israel's position at the negotiating table, this will make Hamas's job of retaining power in Gaza difficult.