Elijah J. Magnier
Ayyash 250k missile (Photo: Mohammed Abed / AFP)
Jerusalem, the West Bank and other cities where Palestinians and Israelis have lived side by side since 1948 rose up to join the Palestinian resistance with their fist raised and rockets and missiles launched against Israeli settler forces in the occupied Palestinian territories. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heralded their “achievements”, he admitted that Ashkelon alone was hit by more than 1,000 Palestinian rockets out of the 4,000 that the resistance launched from Gaza under operation “Sword of Jerusalem”. This sword broke the “Guardian of the Walls”, the name Israel gave to the operation launched on Gaza. In light of the results of this war on Gaza, it is necessary to ask what lessons have been learned by the Axis of Resistance as a result of these last eleven days of confrontation.
Israel always boasts of having developed a doctrine called “Cities that run under fire”, but this has crumbled. Israel overestimated its missile interception systems, and underestimated the Palestinians’ ability to launch more than 150 simultaneous daily rockets and missiles. Israeli army training, which claims to be prepared to challenge multiple enemies on multiple fronts, has failed. Many Israeli politicians and military leaders went into shelters to protect themselves from Gaza rockets. They were unable to prevent rocket fire until the final hours before the cease-fire agreement (sponsored by Egypt, the U.S., Qatar and Jordan) was imposed on both sides.
The Palestinians accepted their human and material losses in exchange for changing the Israeli slogan to “Cities with their inhabitants in shelters under fire”. Despite the ceasefire, the Palestinian popular uprising continues in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Nablus. This indicates that the popular resistance has risen and formed an unprecedented unity among Palestinians inside and outside.
It seems that a new Arab and Palestinian generation is ignoring the “peace agreements” that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had concluded with Israel because they have brought nothing to the Palestinians several decades after their implementation. Israel proved unwilling to return even an inch of territory to the Palestinians, nor to recognize a fully functional state as provided for in the Oslo accords. Demonstrations by Arab youth were very present during the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Egypt and many Western countries.
Unlike the PLO and the old guard, the new Palestinian generation believes in armed struggle against Israel as revenge for the humiliation, ethnic cleansing and abuse of power exercised against them in Palestine. Arabs and Palestinians believe that all peace agreements between the Palestinians and Israel are nothing but ink on paper. It is time to repudiate the fact that the world silently observes Israel’s abuses and applauds its actions justified by the empty rhetoric of “self-defense”.
Israel is forcing the people of Gaza into a concentration camp-like life; thousands of Palestinians were detained without trial, hundreds of children were taken for interrogation and imprisonment, thousands of Palestinian homes were demolished. Palestinians are considered second-class people and Israelis indiscriminately kill civilians and destroy civilian property, as in all wars. However, their disproportionate abuse of power and disregard for international law has not stopped world leaders from allowing Israel to act as it pleases and justifying it as “self-defense”.
For these and other reasons, Gaza took its chances and accepted its losses. Under constant control of the sky, the Palestinians managed to break out and launch 4,000 missiles. This is an almost impossible task, especially in a small geographical area like Gaza, where drones and spy planes never leave the sky.
Axis of Resistance experts began working to fill in the gaps and to assess and develop capabilities.
What would have happened if Israel had faced Hezbollah’s missiles, such as the Fateh 110 and the M-600, considered the most accurate missiles made in Iran and Syria? And Hezbollah’s huge arsenal of armed drones, its anti-ship and long-range, all-weather subsonic cruise missiles? How would the Israeli population living in cities and settlements react when several missiles with a warhead of five hundred or even a thousand kilograms of explosives penetrate through the Israeli Iron Dome, which – Israel admits – was breached by several hundred small missiles launched from Gaza?
The geography of Lebanon is totally different from the flat, open city of Gaza, containing curves, reefs, mountains, rugged terrain, cover and vanishing points. Moreover, Hezbollah’s environment offers a huge and varied geographic area of maneuver. The Lebanese territories are complex, and their mountain range from the east and west is extensive and bumpy, especially the Lebanese-Syrian mountains, which stretch from Al-Qusayr, Qara and Al-Nabek to the western countryside of Damascus and the southern countryside of Homs.
Israeli military tactics are based on first attacking the bank of targets offered to it by its intelligence services. Once exhausted, its Air Force moves on to indiscriminate civilian targets and destruction of infrastructure to indicate that no military targets are available. Israel seeks to turn the population against its leaders, who are to be blamed for the destruction, to divert attention from its violation of the most elementary rules of warfare. Gaza learned from Israeli tactics, developed its abundance of simultaneous rocket fire and hit cities that had never been hit before. The Axis of Resistance is learning the lessons of war from Israel and applying its own doctrine and tactics.
As a member of the Axis of Resistance, Hezbollah has developed its military capabilities beyond those of any known organization. In the event of a future war with Israel, its leaders see the opportunity to move the battle into enemy territory and cross borders, attacking Israeli settlements. Hezbollah relies on the convictions of its highly motivated ideology and the military skills of its special units, acquired in the head-to-head war in Lebanon against Israel in 2006 and in the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Consequently, the extent of the destruction of Israeli cities will be much greater than expected. If Israelis spent days in a shelter with the relatively small rockets fired from Gaza, the consequences of a war with Hezbollah are beyond what we can imagine.
Gaza’s “Sword of Jerusalem” crossed all previous known red lines during a war against Israel. Gaza began shelling Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with no hesitation and no escalation. As a result, Israel is more aware that it is no longer the only one that can destroy its opponent and take it “back to the Stone Age”. The weaponry and skills of Israel’s opponents can also seriously damage and destroy Israel’s infrastructure.
Lessons have been learned and the experts of the Axis of Resistance – which Gaza joined after the gates of Damascus were opened – began working to fill the gaps and assess and develop capabilities. Iran’s warehouses and resources will be much more generously available now that Gaza has achieved victory and demonstrated its willingness and ability to challenge Israel.
This article was originally published on Elijah J. Magnier’s blog on May 26, 2021, translation by Eli C. Casas.
English Translation by Internationalist 360°