Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023
“What happened…will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades…”
In the aftermath of the 7 October attack by the Hamas Qassam Brigades into Israel’s Gaza Envelope, a narrative of victory regarding the operation appears to be crystalizing in Arabic-language media. The accompanying excerpts from mainstream Arabic-language publications illustrate the contours of this narrative, in which Israeli forces are portrayed as largely ineffective and Qassam forces as highly effective. The first accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-aligned daily newspaper al-Araby al-Jadeed, emphasizes that the raid brought to light a disconnect between the image and reality of Israeli capabilities. According to the article, Israel’s elite forces and its military-security technology both suffered a reputational defeat that will lead the “Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the ‘professional army’ model.” Parallel to the narrative of Israeli military ineffectiveness is a narrative of the Qassam Brigades’ competence and operational success. The second accompanying excerpt, from Qatari-funded and pro-Arab al-Jazeera, is centered on Hamas’s information advantage and effective operational planning and execution, highlighting the group’s “strategic deception” and the effective coordination between various Qassam units (elite forces, engineering teams, drone operators, rocket/artillery units, and marine commandos).[i] The third accompanying excerpt, from Lebanon’s al-Akhbar, presents Qassam’s elite forces as devoted, committed, religious, mentally and physically strong young men. These young men, the author concludes, have replaced Qassam [RG1] ’s rockets as “the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.”[ii] The divergence between this emerging narrative of Hamas’s competence and heroism, and the Western portrayal of Hamas’s fighters as brutal terrorists, is striking.
“نخبة القسام في مواجهة «اليمام»
(Qassam’s elite faces ‘Yamam’),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 14 October 2023. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/investigations/نخبة-القسام-في-مواجهة-اليمامالسردية-الإسرائيلية-تسقط-في-غلاف-غزة
Al-Najjar… confirms that the clashes that took place with the Qassam elite forces were isolated pockets, and were carried out by individual settlers, who were killed or captured immediately, while the occupation army did not resist…
The occupying state, which promotes the capabilities of its elite forces, even through drama, as in the case of the widely known “Fauda” series, needs a long time to repair the damage to the prestige of its own units, according to Saeed Abu Moalla, professor of media at the Arab American University…
It is not only the reputation of the elite combat units that was damaged in the battle of the “Al-Aqsa Flood,” says Ahmed Rafiq Awad, head of the “Jerusalem Center for Future Studies” at Al-Quds University. The military technology units in the occupation army, which market themselves as being the top in manufacture spyware, as well as the military industries that established the separation fence with the Gaza Strip, including its surveillance tools, have also been subjected to a profound shock that will affect their reputation around the world…
Ultimately, what happened, according to Mansour, Awad, and Erekat, will cause the Israeli public, especially those in the settlements surrounding Gaza, to lose confidence in the “professional army” model that the occupation army has promoted in the last two decades, which relies on elite units and high technology.
الأدوات العسكرية للمقاومة في معركة “طوفان الأقصى”
(The Resistance’s military tools in the ‘al-Aqsa Flood’ battle),” al-Jazeera (pro-Arab Qatari media company), 14 October, https://www.aljazeera.net/politics/2023/10/14/الأدوات-العسكرية-للمقاومة-في-معركة
The resistance used all military operational tools, starting with intelligence deception operations of the intelligence services in the occupying state, led by the “Aman” [military intelligence] apparatus, which is responsible for giving estimates of the army’s position to the political leadership. The resistance was also able to hide the details of the operation and preparations from Israeli technology and espionage systems, and to mobilize forces, organize equipment, and maintain leadership and command during the battle, through the resistance’s continuous affirmation of the progress of the prepared plan, and its later announcement of rotating forces on the front and supplying the fighters with ammunition and equipment.
العابرون على جناح “النخبة”: هؤلاء أبناؤنا الذين لم يكبروا بعد
(Those going through the ‘elite’ wing: these are our children who have not yet grown up),” al-Akhbar (pro-Hezbollah leftist Lebanese daily), 9 October 2023. https://www.al-akhbar.com/Palestine/370863/العابرون-على-جناح-النخبة-هؤلاء-أبناؤنا-الذين-لم-يكبروا-بع
Out of every 100 fighters, the resistance selects one or two who succeed in passing the physical, psychological, and spiritual tests…
What is it like for Muhannad to be among the elite? A young man free from all restrictions, single, of pure nature, who believes in authentic slogans untainted by reality, whose heart is attached to God, who is enthusiastic and has an excellent physical structure, and also, wholly ready for sacrifice…
Before the day before yesterday, missiles were, in the eyes of both enemy and friend, the only resistance weapon capable of limited action and morally acceptable impact. Today, rockets have become a secondary weapon, while men’s forearms, which trampled on Zionist military honor, have become the most permanent and effective strategic weapon.
[i] Planning is important for the Qassam Brigades. A Qassam training manual, published in 2011, appears to have been used by ISIS for training. See: “Military Training in the Islamic State,” OE Watch, August 2015.
[ii] These elite forces are purported to include 5,000 well-trained and well-equipped forces, per a 2017 study by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies https://www.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/GazaCrisis_ENG-51-62.pdf
Image: Israel strikes targets in Gaza Strip, October 2023
Source: Palestinian News & Information Agency (Wafa) in contract with APAimages, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Damage_in_Gaza_Strip_during_the_October_2023_-_01.jpg
Attribution: CC 3.0