From the Shadows to the Frontlines: Unmasking Hamas' Secret 'Mini-Army' Operations
Israeli forces are on the brink of a significant conflict with Hamas, facing an opponent that has evolved into a formidable military force over the years. Recent events have showcased Hamas' unprecedented planning and scale of attacks, indicating a level of military expertise that has surprised many experts. This transformation, from a small Palestinian group protesting Israeli occupation to a well-equipped and strategically adept force, has been facilitated by a clandestine support network stretching far beyond Gaza's borders, with Iran and allied Arab groups playing a significant role As per interviews conducted by Reuters News agency with 11 individuals well-versed in the group's capabilities, including prominent figures from Hamas, regional security officials, and military experts...
Hamas, seizing control of Gaza in 2007, has faced difficulties in importing weapons due to international restrictions. Consequently, the group resorted to innovative solutions, developing its capabilities and manufacturing weapons locally. According to Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official based in Lebanon, funding and training from Iran and its regional proxies, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, have been instrumental in Hamas' military advancements. Baraka stated, "Necessity is the mother of invention," emphasizing the group's ability to adapt and enhance its military capabilities over time.
One of Hamas' significant achievements has been the development of a vast tunnel network beneath Gaza. This network serves multiple purposes, allowing fighters to disappear swiftly, house weapons factories, and import arms from abroad. Hamas has acquired a wide array of weaponry, including bombs, mortars, rockets, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft missiles, significantly enhancing its firepower.
The impact of these advancements is evident in the increasing lethality of Hamas' attacks. In the 2008 Gaza war, Israel lost nine soldiers. However, by 2014, this number surged to 66, highlighting the growing effectiveness of Hamas' military strategies.
Despite Hamas' enhanced capabilities, experts like H.A. Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute, believe that Israel possesses the capacity to defeat Hamas in any potential conflict. Nevertheless, the evolving nature of Hamas' military capabilities underscores the challenges faced by Israel and the need for continuous adaptation to counter these threats effectively.
After the 2021 Gaza war, Hamas and its affiliate Palestinian Islamic Jihad managed to retain 40% of their missile inventories, a crucial target for the Israelis. The U.S.-based non-profit Jewish Institute for National Security of America reported that Hamas kept approximately 11,750 missiles out of the 23,000 it possessed before the conflict, indicating the group's ability to preserve its military resources even in the face of extensive Israeli attacks.
As tensions escalate, the world watches closely, recognizing that Hamas' transformation into a well-organized and well-equipped fighting force signifies a new chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dynamics of this conflict continue to shift, underscoring the need for diplomatic solutions and international cooperation to ensure lasting peace in the region.
Hamas, a Palestinian militant organization founded in 1988, has consistently advocated for the annihilation of Israel. Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada, Egypt, and Japan all classify Hamas as a terrorist entity. Recent reports suggest that Iran has played a pivotal role in arming, training, and financing the group, enabling it to become a formidable force in the region.
For Iran, Hamas serves as a means to encircle Israel with an array of paramilitary forces, including other Palestinian factions and Lebanon's Hezbollah, according to Western officials.
Hamas leaders are scattered across the Middle East, with bases in countries like Lebanon and Qatar. However, its primary stronghold remains in the Gaza Strip. In response to the anticipated ground invasion following days of Israeli bombardment that resulted in approximately 1,800 casualties, Hamas urged Gazans to remain steadfast and not heed Israel's evacuation calls.
The October 7 attack marked a significant breach in Israel's defenses, with Hamas firing more than 2,500 rockets and employing unconventional tactics like paragliders, motorbikes, and four-wheel drive vehicles. This onslaught resulted in the loss of 1,300 lives and the taking of dozens of hostages.
While Iran has acknowledged its financial and training support for Hamas, it denies any direct involvement in the October 7 attack, though it has praised the group's actions. According to sources cited by Reuters News agency, Iran played a substantial role in training and preparing Hamas, but the decision-making and execution were in the hands of the group itself.
Iran's financial aid to Palestinian organizations, including Hamas, has been estimated at about $100 million annually, according to a U.S. State Department report from 2020.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has also admitted in interview with Al Jazeera to receiving substantial military assistance from Iran, mentioning that they manufacture some rockets locally but acquire long-range rockets from abroad, primarily from Iran and other sources through Egypt.
The role of Iran in supporting Hamas raises concerns in the region, as it continues to arm and fund a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel. The situation further complicates efforts to find a lasting solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Iran's support for Hamas serving as a potential destabilizing factor in the region.
Escalation of violence in the Middle East, as Hamas official Baraka openly declared their intentions. The latest attack on Israel, which took place on October 7th, was purportedly aimed at securing the release of Palestinian prisoners, ending Israeli raids on Al Aqsa mosque, and lifting the blockade on Gaza. While these demands are presented as noble causes, it is essential to analyze the situation critically and consider the broader implications of these actions.
Baraka's warning about the potential escalation of the conflict into a regional war underscores the delicate balance of power in the Middle East. The involvement of global superpowers like the United States and Britain adds another layer of complexity to the situation.
A Disturbing Agenda: The Tactics of Hamas
Hamas, the militant group behind these attacks, has a long history of using violence and terror as political tools. Their tactics not only endanger the lives of innocent Israelis but also threaten the prospects of peace in the region. By launching unprovoked attacks and holding civilians hostage to their political demands, Hamas undermines the very foundations of peaceful coexistence.
The Challenge of Defending Israel’s Sovereignty
Israel, a staunch ally of the United States and other democratic nations, faces an uphill battle in defending its sovereignty and ensuring the safety of its citizens. The Israeli government has a responsibility to protect its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks and infiltrations, and to maintain law and order within its borders.
The Role of the International Community
In this complex situation, the role of the international community cannot be understated. The United States and Britain, as longstanding allies of Israel, have a responsibility to support the nation's right to self-defense. It is crucial to differentiate between the legitimate defense of a nation and unwarranted aggression.
The Potential for Escalation: A Regional Concern
Baraka's ominous warning about a potential regional conflict is deeply troubling. The prospect of a widespread war, extending beyond the borders of Israel and Gaza, poses a significant threat to the stability of the entire Middle East. It is essential for all parties involved to exercise restraint and prioritize diplomatic solutions over violence.
A Call for Dialogue and Cooperation
Amidst the escalating tensions, there is an urgent need for dialogue and cooperation. All parties should engage in peaceful negotiations to address the underlying issues and work towards a lasting resolution. Respect for international law, mutual recognition, and understanding are fundamental elements that can pave the way for lasting peace in the region.
Conclusion: Upholding Peace and Security
In the face of continued threats and provocations, it is vital for the international community to stand together in support of Israel's right to defend itself. Upholding peace and security requires a collective commitment to dialogue, understanding, and a firm stance against extremism. By promoting these values, we can work towards a future where all nations in the region can coexist peacefully, respecting each other's sovereignty and fostering prosperity for their citizens.