A significant advancement: 'The Al-Aqsa Flood' unveils Israeli vulnerabilities

Mohammed Abdel Razek, Saturday 7 Oct 2023

The military operation carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas), known as "The Al-Aqsa Flood," at 6 a.m. on October 7, 2023, marked a remarkable and unprecedented development.

Palestinians wave their national flag and celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fe
Palestinians wave their national flag and celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis southern Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. AP

This operation focused on the settlements near Gaza and resulted in the detention of dozens of Israeli soldiers and settlers and the capture of some of these settlements. "The Al-Aqsa Flood," labelled the largest military operation in the history of resistance, included the unprecedented crossing of Palestinian fighters from Gaza into Israeli territory for the first time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as a real war.

Sudden Tempest

 The "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation was initiated by the Al-Qassam Brigades in response to the provocations and raids carried out by the Israeli occupation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque lately. These actions included repeated raids by Israeli settlers under the protection of the occupation forces. This aligns with the right-wing policies of the Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu and his hawkish allies, notably the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, who personally led some of these raids. Ben Gvir has repeatedly stated that the Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs solely to Jews, excluding others.

The Resistance's Response and Unveiling of Crimes

Mohammed Al-Deif, the Commander-in-Chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades, announced that they decided to end the occupation's crimes. The time for impunity is over, and they initiated the first strike of "The Al-Aqsa Flood" with over 5,000 rockets in the first 20 minutes. He called on Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria to join, saying, "This is the day when your resistance unites with the resistance of your brothers in Palestine." Additionally, the Al-Quds Brigades (the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement) announced within the framework of the "The Al-Aqsa Flood" operation that they, along with the Tulkarm Brigade and the Martyrs of Al-Aqsa Brigades, are targeting the settlement of "Beit Haver."

A Message to the World and Israel's Response

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the political office of Hamas, stated that Palestinian resistance is engaged in an epic battle centred around Al-Aqsa. The main catalyst for this is "the heinous Zionist aggression on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, which reached its peak lately". Thousands of settlers desecrated the Prophet's Night Journey (Isra and Mi'raj) and performed their prayers there, aiming to assert Zionist sovereignty. "We had information that they were heading towards asserting sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and even if the world remained silent, we would not remain silent in the face of this desecration and the enemy's intentions."

Meanwhile, the Israeli army issued a statement at 8 a.m., stating that Hamas had launched a dual operation involving rocket fire and the infiltration of commandos into Israeli territory. The IDF will defend the citizens of the State of Israel, and the terrorist organisation Hamas will pay a heavy price. Subsequently, the army declared a state of "high alert - war" and initiated the "Swords of Iron" operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Significant Advancement in Warfare

"The Al-Aqsa Flood" is a significant and historic military operation in terms of its timing, scale, and method. It coincides with a deep division within Israel at all levels and the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where Israel faced significant setbacks. The operation involved a ground and air attack that penetrated Israeli territory, reaching approximately 40 kilometres inside occupied lands, seizing control of some settlements, and detaining many hostages. It put around 55,000 settlers in these settlements at risk. Moreover, it resulted in the detention of about 35 detainees and transferring some of them with Israeli military vehicles into Gaza. The operation also saw heavy rocket fire reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, disrupting air traffic at Ben Gurion Airport.

Intelligence Failures Revealed

Recent military operations by Palestinian resistance factions have exposed repeated intelligence and information failures within the Israeli security apparatus. They failed to comprehend the Palestinian national context, anticipate the course of events, and predict when such operations might occur. This was again evident in "The Al-Aqsa Flood," as senior Israeli military officials had assured the government in the days leading up to it that Hamas had been deterred and was not interested in escalation. The relative calm exhibited by Hamas in the preceding period was part of its planning for this operation.

Erosion of Deterrence and Israeli Weakness

The political and social turmoil in Israel due to the judicial amendments crisis had wide-ranging repercussions on Tel Aviv and its deterrence balance with Palestinian resistance factions. This situation also affected the image of the Israeli army and its readiness for combat, leading to increased risks from individual Palestinian operations in the West Bank. These operations have caused significant human and morale losses for Israel. These events have demonstrated that as Israeli incursions and provocations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque increase, so do Palestinian operations in response, leading to a cycle of escalation culminating in the significant operation, "The Al-Aqsa Flood." This operation reflects the resistance's recognition of the weakness and division within Israel and the inability of the army to control or raise combat readiness, even with the mobilisation of reserves who were part of the protests and demonstrations during the judicial amendments crisis.

Testing the Concept of a United Front

This significant military operation represents a genuine test of the united front concept, which Palestinian resistance factions continue to affirm within Palestine and beyond. Given the scale of "The Al-Aqsa Flood" operation and the significant results achieved so far, including the detention of several Israelis and continued control over at least three settlements in Gaza and the military site of Karm Abu Salem east of Rafah, the current moment presents a suitable opportunity to launch a multi-front war, something Israel has long feared. The involvement of other factions in this operation would increase the losses it would incur. Thus, the Al-Qassam Brigades and the Al-Quds Brigades have called for the participation of different factions and resistance fighters within the West Bank and Jerusalem in "The Al-Aqsa Flood."

In summary, the significant operation, "The Al-Aqsa Flood," has achieved considerable operational success thus far. This success includes the detention of Israeli settlers and soldiers, opening the door for a wide-scale prisoner exchange shortly, and seizing some settlements and confrontations with the Israeli army. The success of this operation will depend on its overall plan, development, and defined objectives.

*The writer is a senior researcher at the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies (ECSS).

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