The Axis of Resistance involvement in the Gaza Conflict: Beyond Mere Threats
By Elijah J. Magnier:
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has captured the world’s attention. Still, the involvement of the Axis of Resistance adds a layer of complexity to an already complex geopolitical landscape. As Israel flexes its military muscle and Palestinian fighters in Gaza demonstrate unwavering resilience, the role and intentions of the Axis of Resistance remain a subject of intense speculation and scrutiny. Indeed, when the Chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, Hashem Safial-Din, declared that “Hezbollah is not neutral” in the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza, it was more than a statement of intent. As one of the organisation’s most senior leaders, Safial-Din’s words carried weight and signalled a definitive Hezbollah direct involvement in the ongoing conflict.
His statement didn’t mean that Hezbollah would intervene if Gaza faced an invasion. Instead, it confirmed Hezbollah’s active involvement in the fighting. But the details of that involvement remained unspoken. Was it limited to firing rockets from the Lebanese border, or did it involve more? This brings us to the central question: What exactly is the Axis of Resistance’s contribution to the Gaza conflict, and what role has it played so far?
Working together in the Joint Operations Room: Thwarting Israeli plans
From the start of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the importance of working together in the Joint Operations Room became clear. Outside and inside Gaza, these command and control centres were instrumental in directing the battle on multiple fronts, from tactics on the ground to intelligence and strategic planning.
This joint approach was particularly evident in 2021. Israel sought to inflict maximum casualties when Hamas spread out in tunnels to ambush the Israeli army as it advanced. Acting quickly, the electronic surveillance unit of the joint operations room outside Gaza persuaded the Palestinians to abandon the tunnels immediately. This timely intervention prevented significant casualties among Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, effectively derailing the Israeli strategy.
Behind the Scenes: The intricate planning of Hamas and Islamic Jihad
From the outset, the scale and precision of the operations carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza highlight the extensive secretive preparation and support required. Such a campaign requires significant resources, military strategy, information collection and update, and intelligence foresight. It’s about executing the operations and anticipating the aftermath, especially the expected Israeli retaliation.
The meticulous planning is evident in the ability to launch a massive attack on 20 settlements and infiltrate 11 military bases within a 40-kilometre radius of the Gaza Strip. That this was achieved without detection by the Israeli army, renowned for its advanced electronic surveillance, underlines the depth of intelligence cooperation and shared expertise.
It’s not just a military operation; it’s also a strategic message to regional and international audiences that will have consequences for the years to come. Collaboration and pooling accumulated experience have been crucial in managing the complexities of such a significant and coordinated attack against Israel.
The Israeli army, which already has 90,000 officers and soldiers, has strengthened its ranks by calling up reserves, bringing the total to an estimated 400,000 officers and soldiers. Faced with this massive mobilisation, the “Axis of Resistance” was expected to intervene. Their strategy? To spread the Israeli army thin by opening several fronts, thus complicating Israel’s military plans.
The Israeli military is now in the difficult position of dividing its vast resources between several potential hotspots: Gaza, Lebanon (arguably the most volatile), Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This strategic dispersal became even more critical after the leaders of Ansar Allah, Abdul Malik Badr al-Din al-Houthi, and the Iraqi resistance declared their readiness to join the fray.
In such a multi-front scenario, the Israeli military leadership is tasked with allocating its forces effectively. They must ensure that each front is adequately engaged while maintaining a reserve force that can be rapidly deployed to reinforce the most embattled areas or replace exhausted units. The dynamics of this conflict have evolved, and the Israeli military is now grappling with the intricacies of managing a war on multiple fronts.
Israel’s approach to regional skirmishes has seen a marked shift. No longer is it content to attribute attacks on its forces, especially on the northern front (the Lebanese border), to Hezbollah’s proxies or Palestinian factions, even if these groups claim responsibility in the media. Instead, Israel has taken a more direct approach, retaliating against Hezbollah’s positions head-on.
This change in strategy stems from a perceived erosion of Israel’s prestige. Israel has opted for a more assertive stance to avoid displaying further signs of vulnerability or indecision. However, it’s worth noting that the current engagements remain relatively contained. The confrontations, while direct, are still “within bounds”, primarily restricted to the lines of contact and only extending a few kilometres into each side’s territory.
Hezbollah and Israel: A calculated game of tit-for-tat on the northern front
Israel’s military strategy on the northern front, particularly in the Galilee Division, is evolving. The commander of this division is sending clear signals to Hezbollah, meticulously planning each attack to convey readiness and determination. The underlying message is that Israel is not only vigilant but will retaliate proportionately, depending on the nature and outcome of any provocation. The Israeli military are far from intimidating Hezbollah that seeks to provoke Israel into a broader clash. This is why Hezbollah is making its presence felt. The group has mobilised thousands of its elite Al-Radwan forces along the border. Its approach is dynamic, ensuring that no day goes by without Israeli positions being targeted. Whether in the Far East, the Central Sector or the West, Hezbollah’s actions constantly remind Israel that the group is ever vigilant and ready to exploit any perceived vulnerability along the front.
Hezbollah’s initiative and confrontational stance on the Israeli-Lebanese border is prominent. The group initiated the first attack on the Israeli position at Radar Hill and has been vocal about its active role in the ongoing conflict. Recognising the threat’s seriousness, Israel has reinforced its defences along the Lebanese border. The Israeli military’s concern is palpable, stemming from the belief that Hezbollah could exploit any lapse in security. There’s a feeling that, if given the opportunity, Hezbollah might breach the Lebanese border and advance towards the Israeli settlements, which have been evacuated in anticipation of such an incursion.
Israel envisages a scenario where Hezbollah’s elite forces, backed by artillery and infantry, could launch a two-pronged attack, effectively trapping Israeli forces between the southern and northern fronts. Yet despite the palpable tension, Israel has maintained a restrained response on the Lebanese border. This measured approach is driven by a desire to avoid playing into Hezbollah’s hands and further escalating the situation.
After years of confrontation, both sides have developed a deep understanding of each other’s tactics and strategies. They’ve become adept at reading each other’s moves, anticipating reactions and adjusting their strategies accordingly. If Israel were to react more aggressively than expected, both sides would be well aware of the potential consequences and tread carefully.
Israel seeks international intervention amid multi-front threats.
Faced with the prospect of a multi-front war, Israel has reached out to international allies, including the United States, France, Qatar and Egypt, urging them to mediate and dissuade Hezbollah and other factions from escalating the conflict. The underlying concern for Israel is its ability to deal with simultaneous threats from multiple directions, a challenge that could stretch its military thin.
However, the situation took a more complex turn when US President Joe Biden intervened. Biden’s message to the countries and organisations involved, particularly Hezbollah, Yemen and Iran, was clear: refrain from further involvement or face the consequences. But the warning has had the opposite effect. In a show of defiance, the “Axis of Resistance” launched attacks from Syria on the occupied Golan Heights and initiated another direct attack from Lebanon. Within hours of Biden’s statement, these actions sent a clear signal to the international community: The “Axis of the Resistance” would not be easily deterred or intimidated.
The message from the “Axis of Resistance” was unmistakable. They believe that the balance of power and deterrence on the ground is set and that external threats or reinforcements, even from a superpower like the US, won’t change the existing dynamic. The crux of their position is that Israel must accept its losses, stop attacking civilians in Gaza, and understand that reinforcing its forces with American support won’t necessarily tip the scales in its favour. The unfolding events underline the region’s complex geopolitics and the challenges of achieving a lasting peace.
Informed sources suggest that a drone attack involving several drones may be imminent. Interestingly, the Iraqi resistance could claim responsibility for such an attack, underlining the unity and coordination of various factions against Israel.
The recent declaration of a state of war by the Israeli government and the subsequent empowerment of its military to act against Gaza as it sees fit has heightened fears of a full-scale ground invasion. Such an operation would be fraught with challenges for Israel. Gaza, often referred to as the “city of tunnels”, is a complex battlefield. The intricate network of underground passages, combined with the vastly improved capabilities of the Palestinian resistance, means that Israel would likely face stiff and bloody opposition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finds himself in a precarious position. While there’s immense pressure to act decisively and restore Israel’s deterrence, the potential for significant Israeli casualties in a ground operation is a sobering factor. The looming threat of drone strikes, the complex dynamics of urban warfare in Gaza and the international ramifications of a large-scale conflict will weigh heavily on Netanyahu’s decision-making process in the coming days.
The US, Iran and the multi-front dynamics of the Israel-Gaza conflict
Amid the escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza, the United States has avoided direct accusations against Iran. For its part, Iran has consistently denied involvement in the ongoing war. This stance has been reinforced by statements from the Guardian of the Law, Sayyed Ali Khamenei, who stressed Iran’s disinterest in negotiations and asserted that any discussions should focus on Gaza and the Palestinians, the main parties involved.
Some see deploying the 90-plane USS Ford aircraft carrier to the region as a symbolic gesture rather than a game changer. To put things in perspective, Israel has about 900 aircraft. The effectiveness of air power in modern warfare is debated. Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon have shown that ground forces often remain resilient despite the significant destruction that air strikes can inflict. This resilience is evident in Gaza’s response to the current conflict, as well as its response to previous confrontations in 2014 and 2021.
The Axis of Resistance has yet to decide whether to engage fully in the war and open all fronts. Such a decision will depend on the evolving situation and Israel’s actions towards Gaza. However, the strategy seems clear: maintain pressure on several shows to ensure Israel remains stretched and on high alert. This tactic is aimed at exhausting the Israeli military, preventing it from focusing solely on Gaza and keeping it in a perpetual state of insecurity. The multi-front strategy underlines the complex geopolitical dynamics at play and the intricate game of chess being played by regional powers.
Biden’s stance and the escalation in Gaza
US President Joe Biden’s perceived support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has raised eyebrows, especially amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Critics argue that Biden’s support essentially gives Israel carte blanche to target Gaza (because it is not just Hamas), even if it results in widespread devastation and significant civilian casualties.
European leaders and international bodies have voiced their concerns, accusing Israel of violating international law and the United Nations Charter. Israel’s actions, such as cutting off essential supplies such as water, electricity, fuel, food and medicine, have drawn sharp criticism. Furthermore, the derogatory portrayal of Palestinians and the closure of border crossings have only increased global condemnation.
However, these international condemnations seem to have had little effect on Netanyahu’s determination to continue the military campaign in Gaza. The scale and intensity of the operations have led many to fear a possible systematic destruction or even a forced transfer of Palestinians to Sinai, a notion previously floated by some Israeli leaders. Such a move would be reminiscent of the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus of 1948, and would undoubtedly have a profound impact on the region.
Against this backdrop, the “Axis of Resistance” is prepared to step up its engagement to prevent any large-scale displacement of Palestinians and to counterbalance Israel’s military power. The unfolding situation underlines the complex geopolitical dynamics of the Middle East and the delicate balance of power that exists there.
The Middle East is on the brink, with the potential for broader conflict looming large. The “Axis of Resistance” is determined to challenge Israel’s military might, taking advantage of what it perceives as Israel’s moment of vulnerability. The belief is that, despite its show of force, Israel will struggle to counter organisations such as Hezbollah even with the backing of the US and its naval fleet.
Recent Israeli actions suggest a nation preparing for a major confrontation. By launching attacks on several fronts – Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and even the Egyptian Rafah crossing – Israel aims to project strength and readiness. But beneath the surface, there’s a growing sense of desperation. Israel is reaching out to regional allies, Western nations and the US in particular, seeking support in a conflict that has already taken a heavy toll on its side: 1300 Palestinian killed, 6000 wounded, and 265,000 displaced. On the Israeli side, there are 1200 Israeli killed and 2500 wounded. These numbers are increasing by the hour.
In contrast, the Palestinian fighters in Gaza continue to resist despite enduring a crippling 17-year blockade. Their resilience is emblematic of a population that has taken decades of hardship and is now rising against long-standing injustices.
The next few days are crucial. They will determine whether the region descends into a wider war or whether cooler heads prevail and the situation does not spiral out of control. The stakes are high, and the world is watching anxiously, hoping for a solution that avoids further loss of innocent lives.
The intricate web of alliances, strategies and geopolitical interests in the Middle East has again come to the fore with the ongoing Gaza conflict. The deep involvement of the “axis of resistance” has highlighted the multidimensional nature of the competition, in which regional powers are not mere spectators but active participants. The actions of the Israeli military, combined with the indomitable spirit of the Palestinian fighters, underline the volatility of the situation. As international powers become involved, the potential for the conflict to escalate or de-escalate hangs in the balance.
The role of major players such as the US and Iran, coupled with the strategic manoeuvring of groups such as Hezbollah, paints a picture of a region where every move has far-reaching consequences. The resilience of the Palestinian fighters, despite years of blockade and adversity, is a testament to their determination and the broader spirit of resistance in the region.
As the world watches with bated breath, there is hope for a solution that prioritises human life and paves the way for a lasting peace. However, the complex dynamics suggest that achieving such a solution will require more than just military strategies; it will require diplomatic finesse, mutual understanding and a genuine commitment to peace from all parties involved, which Israel rejected before the Gaza war.
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