Adnan Abu Amer
Middle East Monitor / April 11, 2023
The Israeli occupation forces’ attacks on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque led to a series of developments. These attacks caused rockets to be fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, and several commando operations in the West Bank were carried out, but the height of actions was the firing of dozens of rockets from southern Lebanon followed by the Israeli occupation carrying out an aggression on Gaza and Lebanon.
These events came as a three-fold surprise to Israel. The first was in the timing, where Israel was expecting rockets to be fired from Gaza in response to Al-Aqsa incursions, but instead, it was surprised to see the south of Lebanon firing bursts of rockets at northern Israel. The second was the amount; Israel hadn’t anticipated being hit with dozens of missiles as was the case in the 2006 war. The third surprise was the cause of the rockets, which came in response to the Al-Aqsa attacks, as if to say that Al-Aqsa does not only concern Palestinians inside the occupied territories, but also those outside Palestine.
It is not easy to separate the bloody events and crimes that took place at Al-Aqsa Mosque in full view of the whole world, from the various security tensions surrounding Israeli fronts from all sides, whether internally or externally. Israel has witnessed several events: Israeli crimes at Al-Aqsa Mosque and gunfire and armed attacks against Israeli targets. These cannot be seen as mere coincidences, especially during the sensitive days of the holy month of Ramadan.
What’s more complex, according to Israelis, is that all regional players seem to be going through an intense conflict, in preparation for the new rules of the game, which could go on for years and lead to a multi-faceted regional escalation. This is a huge security danger that the Israeli prime minister and his minister of war may be subject to, which is why Benjamin Netanyahu decided to keep his defence minister after he had made a rash decision to fire him.
Israeli security services, which have always boasted about their intelligence systems and how they can count how many breaths Palestinians take, were surprised to see that in broad daylight, and without a warning, they were hit with missiles from southern Lebanon, which is seen as an unmistakable failure.
Close follow-up of Israeli military and security reports showed that there is an inclination to make Gaza and Lebanon pay the price for the Israeli army’s failure, but that there is an Israeli desire to avoid an unwanted confrontation with Hezbollah. Israelis estimate that Gaza is not going to be easy, but it may be less burdensome and less regionally involved than Lebanon.
However, it is obvious that the Israeli army has messed up. Right now, the Israeli army faces a dilemma: how to avoid an escalation during the Israeli holidays?
The latest round of Israeli aggression on Gaza has ended. The bombing was not as fierce as they had announced, which means the Israelis either deliberately exaggerated the anticipated response so they can wage psychological warfare against Palestinians, or that Israeli political and military decisions do not prefer to wage a large response, in fear of the resistance’s reaction.
This means that this initial response is only the beginning, and that Israel is still waiting for a suitable opportunity, perhaps after the Jewish holidays. The Lebanese arena, which was home to the original event, used up a lot of Israeli decision makers’ time, but no major decision was made against it, perhaps because of the timing, or the regional complications. It did get bombed in some areas, in particular the Palestinian refugee camps.
Israelis believe that what happened is the result of the government’s weakness, which led to the destruction of the security and military deterrence.
The opposition highlighted that it had warned that the policies of Netanyahu’s government would lead to a security threat against the state. This, they said, confirms that Netanyahu personally is a threat to Israeli security, today more than ever.
Israelis admit that they have never witnessed a situation like this before, where Israel is collapsing on the inside, and isolated from the outside. This ultimately led to the weakening of Israeli deterrence and this weakness encouraged Israel’s enemies to take coordinated and planned steps against it. Israelis claim that firing the rockets from various fronts was the result of complete coordination between the various armed organisations.
It is an unprecedented case of deterioration of Israeli security and depletion of its forces within the occupied Palestinian territories as well as external areas. Meanwhile, the internal front is witnessing polarisation, which may give the resistance an opportunity to intensify its strikes in various regions and on more than one front. In the end, the Israeli occupation is not a superpower, but is subject to threats and pressure. It is true that it possesses lethal military power, but every force has its own limits.
Adnan Abu Amer is the head of the Political Science Department at the University of the Ummah in Gaza