“Israel’s” Offensive against Islamic Jihad Was Not a Victory, but There Are Lessons to Learn

Although “Israel” will parade this offensive around as a victory, it will prove a childish miscalculation in the future and the Palestinian resistance will only grow from this.

“Israel’s” brutal military offensive against Gaza killed 46 Palestinians, including 16 children and 4 women, injuring 360. Working with the element of surprise on its side, the Zionist regime claimed victory, as did the Resistance, following a ceasefire agreement late this Sunday. So, what really happened, and was there truly a winner?

To begin with, “Israel’s” so-called military operation named “breaking dawn”, came with the specific aim of targeting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement. The offensive was unexpected and was launched whilst PIJ’s Secretary General, Ziyad Nakhalah, was in Tehran and being interviewed by Al Mayadeen TV. It is clear from the timing of the offensive, in addition to the rhetoric which came from the Zionist regime, that it sought to send a message to both the Islamic Republic and its allies across the region. It is also possible that “Israel” was seeking to distract away from the issue of the maritime border dispute with Lebanon and in the process weaken the PIJ movement. Inflicting a blow on Gaza and then turning its military attention to its much-feared adversary in the North, Hezbollah.

It is also clear that both Israeli Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, and Minister of War, Benny Gantz, sought to score political points from this offensive, attempting to get an edge on Benjamin Netanyahu in the polls for the November Israeli elections. Whether they achieved that, or not, only time will tell, but most certainly many Israelis will have had the impression that they came off with a win. “Israel” was well prepared for this offensive, its strategic release of video footage showing the targeting of Gaza’s outposts and the assassinations of PIJ military commanders shows that the media was very much a part of this offensive action. In fact, their media tactics mirror those of the Resistance in many ways.

“Israel” also sought to divide the Palestinian factions, along with the people, and to bring down their morale. The Resistance remained united through, causing the failure of the Zionist army’s objective. However, there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration after reviewing the outcomes of “Israel’s” offensive.

“Israel’s” offensive failed on a number of levels. It failed to significantly weaken PIJ’s military capabilities, it did not prove much of a task for Hamas and PIJ to remain united, and it also cannot claim to have prevented PIJ from resisting. It is not yet clear how well this offensive has been considered by the Israeli settlers. However, allowing extremist settlers to storm Masjid Al-Aqsa seemed to indicate that Right-wing Israeli voters were receiving a virtue signal. “Israel” sought to assert its dominance over Palestinians, to spit in their faces, murder their civilians, kill their military leaders and desecrate the holiest sites in all of Palestine. On the level of asserting themselves over the Palestinian people as the settler-colonists they are, they succeeded.

Due to the advancements made by the Resistance in Gaza over the years, militarily and tactically, neither side can now win a decisive victory over the other. “Israel” is also simply too cowardly to launch a ground operation in Gaza and attempt to even fight the Resistance face to face, despite its technological advantages. So when we talk about winning, we are now talking about who got the edge on the other tactically and who came off better with more symbolic victories. In this case, given that “Israel” clearly prepared the offensive well in advance and that the Resistance was simply responding with modest means, they did not do all that well. However, if we are honest, this moment has to be a learning curb.

The Resistance in Gaza should not have to stand alone in any future conflict as it just did, there needs to be real work towards integrating the popular struggle in the 1948 territories, occupied Al-Quds and the West Bank, into a comprehensive response that can be triggered to respond to Israeli crimes everywhere. During the battle of Saif Al-Quds, in May 2021, the Palestinians who took to the streets to confront the occupation were an integral part of this victory. It has to be recognized that not only was there an underwhelming response, in the rest of Palestine outside of Gaza, to “Israel’s” crimes committed inside the besieged coastal enclave, but this was also the case during Ramadan when occupied Al-Quds came under attack too. This is not because Palestinians are not united, it is because they do not have a unified movement capable of organizing everyone to come to the streets, everything is spontaneous and it can rarely be accurately estimated as to when we will see an uprising.

The other element to this is that “Israel’s” propaganda war managed to cause great debates amongst Palestinians, finger-pointing at different parties, and an overall sense of loss. One of the most popular lines of argument was that Hamas was becoming like the Palestinian Authority in its approach to Resistance, which is completely inaccurate. On the contrary, Hamas did not want to prevent PIJ and other parties from responding, like the PLO used to do, instead it wished to stand by its allies, without having to escalate the conflict. For all of the criticisms leveled at Hamas, staying out of the battle was a sensible decision.

We have to understand that the Resistance in Gaza is not the Resistance in Lebanon, it may be part of the same camp, but it does not possess the capabilities of the Lebanese Resistance. The Al-Qassam brigades – Hamas’s armed wing – need the element of surprise and popular support from within the other territories of Palestine, in order to come out with the best possible results. The battle of Saif Al-Quds was a victory, but did not break the siege on Gaza. If Hamas enters into a military confrontation soon, it must calculate well in order to ensure the people of Gaza will benefit after the fighting is over. From their perspective; why fight for the sake of it and lose ten times the number of martyrs only for the conditions of Gaza to get even worse? They clearly decided that allowing this round to end was a much better option.

The primary difference between PIJ and Hamas is as follows; Hamas is a political movement, involved in the military sphere and PIJ is a military movement, involved in the political sphere. The one criticism that could be leveled towards the Resistance, is not the actions taken by PIJ or Hamas, but instead, it is their rhetoric. “Israel” would not have had the ability to inflict a feeling of hopelessness and division on the Palestinian people if it wasn’t for some of the rhetoric of the Resistance. The reason why people expected Hamas to get involved and for “Israel’s” offensive to be decisively crushed, was because this is what the Resistance has in essence been telling everyone since the victory of Saif Al-Quds. The people were led to believe that the Resistance had capabilities beyond what they do and so it was confusing, even a letdown, for many who expected a crushing response. If the Resistance would have taken more time to explain the reality a bit better, or would have even toned down some of its threats a bit, there would be no expectations that people would have felt they were let down. This Resistance is the people’s Resistance, when push comes to shove they will always stand behind it, their right to self-defense and to liberate their lands. This is attached to each and everyone’s pride, their honor, this is their greatest line of defense and so it should be always factored in that the people will be emotionally connected to what the Resistance does, this is expected.

The pain suffered in Gaza will not pass, there will be a response in the future and it is clear that “Israel” did not break the Resistance in the slightest, despite the loss of PIJ commanders Taysir Jaabari and Khaled Mansour. Although “Israel” will parade this offensive around as a victory, it will prove a childish miscalculation in the future and the Palestinian Resistance will only grow from this. Now is a time to mourn the innocent civilians massacred, to rebuild and regroup.