Gaza: Resistance fighters remain in position, on alert

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Palestinian supporters of Hamas shout anti-Israeli slogans during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Nablus in support of Hamas and against Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, on August 4, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Jaafer Ashtiyeh)

By: Bayan Abdel Wahad

Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Did the Palestinian Resistance fighters lay down their weapons and rest or go home to check on their families as the temporary cease-fire went into effect? The answer seems to be no. These fighters have not returned home for nearly a month and the fate of a number of them is still unknown and will remain so until all the rubble is cleared.

Gaza – If you want to know the fate of these fighters, you have to walk down the streets of Gaza on the first day of the cease-fire (yesterday). People’s presence out on the streets seemed timid, except in the markets. They carry bags of aid and a few loaves of bread. There are no signs of weapons in the streets even though military confrontation, according to security sources, is still an open possibility. Bearded men are nowhere to be found.

This situation signals the heightened sense of security adopted by the Resistance factions to protect the lives of their members. The Palestinian military wings apparently do not trust the cunning occupation forces that had breached declared ceasefires twice before by targeting civilians.

On the northern outskirts of the Gaza Strip, Al-Akhbar met Abu al-Momen, a commander in the sniper unit of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing. One can say the meeting was a coincidence as the man stood staring on the seashore. He had come out of a nearby hiding place that he used to keep a look-out for, as he said, the infiltration of the Israeli navy’s frogmen unit. An incident like that already happened two weeks ago but the sniper and armor units confronted them with a barrage of fire and prevented them from entering.

Abu al-Momen allowed us to chat with him for a few minutes. He said, with his hand on the trigger, that he has not left his post in a long time and that he and his comrades have not had the chance to go home and check on their families, as they are under strict orders to maintain military readiness and remain in their posts until they receive new orders from the field command overseen by brigade commanders.

Al-Akhbar learned from trusted field sources that an officer in al-Qassam Brigades’ elite unit, whose nom-de-guerre was Samed, was targeted when he left his hiding place and made a walkie-talkie call in al-Khaznadar area in northwestern Gaza.

The source said there are strict instructions that fighters have to abide by. They must maintain military readiness. They – especially those on the front lines – must not leave their positions, and monitoring units must work around the clock.

Investigations by the field command revealed that the aforementioned area was indeed bombed which forced fighters to come out in order to save their lives. Their move, however, exposed them to a drone that targeted them immediately, killing Samed and another fighter.

These tactics and commands come in conjunction with talks between Palestinian factions and the Egyptian intelligence in Cairo in order to reach an agreement that would end the war and lift the siege. They also coincide with an Israeli withdrawal from most of the areas it entered during Operation Protective Edge that began on July 7. The military wings of Palestinian factions, however, continue to operate as though the war is still ongoing. They promised they would respond to any ground incursion during the cease-fire, which is why their units must remain ready at all times.

According to semi-official statistics, 80 percent of the over 1,800 martyrs in Gaza are civilians, especially women and children. This battle witnessed a decline in the death toll among the Resistance fighters due to the increased levels of security they adopted. That might explain why, at least partially, the Israelis intensified their targeting of civilians as they were unable to locate fighters.

The military wing of Islamic Jihad, al-Quds Brigade, announced the death of 60 of its fighters and so did al-Qassam Brigades and other factions. But none of them have issued an official and final count yet. Al-Quds Brigades said that a number of its martyrs died in massacres against civilians and were not in a state of military readiness or on the battlefield.

Al-Qassam Brigades reiterated yesterday that the direction it will take in the future is “subject to achieving the aspirations of our people that we can not override.”

It stressed that this is just a temporary phase and “the behavior of the enemy will determine the course of the battle and its outcomes.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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