The Palestinian Resistance Alters the Rules
Al-Akhbar’s reporters in Gaza examine the Palestinian military response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. As the resistance fighters unify, they’ve been able to strike deeper into Israel.
Gaza – Tel Aviv’s stated objective behind its latest assault on Gaza is to enforce its policy of military deterrence in the Strip. After this objective was dealt a fatal blow by the Palestinian resistance, Israel presumed it would be able to end the battle at will – as it had always done – by reaching a truce that is often unilateral.
This time, however, Israel did not have its way. Instead, the fighters of the various factions of the Palestinian resistance have managed to strike deep into Israel using the latest weaponry. The resistance has continued to pound the occupied territories with a barrage of rockets, including the Fajr-5 missile, which was launched on Tel Aviv by Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades.
For its part, Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, confirmed that the group’s fighters were “seekers of martyrdom.” Its spokesperson Abu Ahmad told Al-Akhbar, “The enemy bears full responsibility for all and any consequences of assassinating the leaders of the resistance.”
He continued, “The brigades are ready to thwart any Israeli attempts to subjugate the Palestinian people, who have made countless sacrifices over the years for the sake of their freedom and independence.” He affirmed that there were various “means for self defense” at their disposal.
Meanwhile, Abu Ataya, a spokesperson for the Popular Resistance Committees, said, “If the occupation continues its aggression on the Gaza Strip, then it must expect the worst and bear the consequences.”
“The Israeli media are concealing the Israeli army’s casualties, a sign that the losses are indeed massive and that they would [otherwise] have a huge impact on the Zionist arena,” he said.
The resistance factions have announced that they are following a new strategy, one that will enhance joint military action and lead to more effective strikes against the enemy. The Palestinian resistance continues to deal surprising blows to the occupation forces.
First, the Israeli army acknowledged that three of its soldiers were injured when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Eshkol in southern Israel.
Then, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that a military plane went incommunicado over Gaza. This came after the Qassam Brigades declared that they had shot down an Israeli aircraft over the Strip.
In turn, Al-Quds Brigades confirmed that it had targeted Beersheba, Ofakim, and Ashdod with Grad rockets, and a military site in Sufa using 107 mm rockets.
According to Channel 10, all Israeli hospitals were put on a high state of alert, while the Home Front Command in Israel made radio appeals for Israelis to go into the shelters immediately after they hear the sirens. Israeli Command told local authorities to prepare for a seven-week combat period.
Three rockets also landed in the Tel Aviv area, while the Israeli army confirmed a rocket had fallen in an uninhabited stretch of land outside Jerusalem.
Last night, Gaza was on the receiving end of some of the fiercest bombardment by Israel since the start of its assault. Hardly a minute went by without Israeli warplanes dropping bombs on the Strip. The explosions carry such force that they crack the ground open beneath them.
Since Israel knows that a large part of the strength of Gaza and the resistance fighters is drawn from their sheer endurance and their ability to hold their ground, the occupation forces began making threats even before the military operation began. Palestinians were thus warned that the latest war would be even more severe than Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.
This spread fear and panic among many residents of Gaza. It seemed that Israeli leaders, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wanted to start their assault by inflicting a psychological defeat upon the Gaza Strip first.
To be sure, it appears that Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip today have more control over their emotions, and know how to better deal with military escalation. During heavy bombardment, for example, they remain inside their homes and do not leave for any reason, even to help the injured.
In order to overcome the panic, many Palestinians banded together to keep each other posted of news in the early hours of the Israeli assault.
By contrast, the Israelis living in the occupied territories have not experienced this much tension since the days of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, whom they might have recalled when the first Palestinian rocket hit Tel Aviv. In truth, this has emboldened the people of Gaza and increased their confidence in the resistance, which gives them more strength with each passing day.
Mothers in Gaza have been playing their part too, trying to ease their children’s terror. Many have gathered their children in the safest place of their homes, away from windows, and read them stories that may give them strength and some reassurance.
Um Mohammad al-Arami, 36, is a mother of four. She said that the previous night was the worst for her and her children. In the hope that they may forget the horror of the war and devastation around them, she made the children their favorite sweets. She also kept them away from the TV set.
“I know we are in a war, but I am trying to keep it away from them,” she said. “They are still children, and I must not let them live these moments that may affect their psyches for many years to come.”
Um Mohammad then added, “When I heard about the escalation that the occupation forces had first declared, I feared for my kids. I am now more reassured, and as the days go by, I feel that the escalation may end at any moment.”
The Israeli warplanes did not discourage Mohammad al-Sairafi, a child living in Gaza, from playing in the yard of his house, though he does steer clear of open spaces in case of an air raid.
In full confidence, Mohammad said, “Father told me that the Israelis are afraid of us, and that they don’t scare us. What’s more, a lot of the rockets are being fired from our side, not theirs. I know when the rockets are being fired from here, and I don’t stop playing when this happens. But when the rockets come from a plane, I try to be careful.”
The Palestinians in Gaza also found another place they can speak out against the war: Facebook. Many have taken to this social media service to share news, or sometimes, make jokes at the expense of the failed Israeli attack.
Mohammad al-Nakhaleh joked on his Facebook page: “The occupation said: Gaza is bombing us using the internationally banned white phosphorus! Nuclear bombs to follow, God willing.”
In the meantime, Israeli jets continued to fly in Gaza’s airspace and spread terror. The planes dropped leaflets in the northern parts of the Strip, warning people there of the coming escalation.
Perhaps they will succeed in the psychological warfare against the people of Gaza, like they did during Operation Cast lead, tricking them into thinking that the war will have no end.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.