Australia/Israel Review


Iranian proxies threaten during Ramadan

Mar 31, 2023 | Yoni Ben Menachem

Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters display their intentions towards Israel at a rally in Gaza City, October 2022 (Image: Anas Mohammed/Shutterstock)
Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters display their intentions towards Israel at a rally in Gaza City, October 2022 (Image: Anas Mohammed/Shutterstock)

Sometime on March 11 or 12, a terrorist infiltrated from Lebanon into Israel’s Galilee and launched a bomb attack in the Megiddo area using a sophisticated explosive device. These actions were major intelligence and operational failures for the IDF. Israel’s political echelons should have ordered a military response; the lack of such a response erodes Israel’s deterrence.

It is believed that the terrorist who infiltrated Israeli territory was a Palestinian who belonged to Hamas forces in southern Lebanon and was trained by Hezbollah experts in how to activate the sophisticated, shaped explosive device. Hamas is reportedly recruiting in the Tyre and Sidon refugee camps. 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah knew about the infiltration operation and approved it. It was a joint operation by Hezbollah and Hamas even though the two organisations took no responsibility for the attack.

According to intelligence data from various sources, Israeli security officials assess that over the month of Ramadan, which runs from March 23 until April 21, there will be an unprecedented conflict with Palestinian terrorist factions on several fronts that may deteriorate into a military conflict even more acute than the major conflict in the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

Public signs also testify to this likelihood: Hamas and Islamic Jihad have increased the incitement against Israel in recent weeks and launched a campaign of psychological warfare to weaken Israeli morale.

 

Hamas Terrorist Chief’s Warning

Saleh al-Arouri, the Vice Chairman of the Hamas movement and head of its military wing in the West Bank, and the man who coordinates Hamas’ activity with Hezbollah in Beirut, said in an interview on the official Hamas website on March 14 that the events to come will be very difficult for the “occupation and its settlers.” The “resistance” in the West Bank is in a state of escalation and it is diversifying its weapons, he added.

Marwan Issa, the shadowy deputy commander of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip, hinted at the possibility of massive rocket fire from the Strip towards Israel. He told the Al-Aqsa channel on March 15 that the “political project in the West Bank has ended; the enemy brought the Oslo Accords to an end; and the coming days will be eventful.”

Issa also said a political solution in the West Bank “is a thing of the past… Any escalation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area will result in a reaction in the Gaza Strip; Hamas in Gaza will not [just] be an observer to events in Jerusalem.

“The desire to commit suicide among the [Muslim] residents of the West Bank is unprecedented, and the state of resistance in the West Bank is excellent. So is the state of national unity in the face of the Occupation,” Issa claimed.

 

The Iranian Connection

A spokesman for the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also threatened Israel with a new intifada and a conflict it had never experienced before.

The accumulation of these statements by the heads of the terrorist organisations, and intelligence information from Israel, indicate an impending escalation. The security meeting initiated by the United States in Aqaba on Feb. 26, 2023, failed, and the aftermath of the next meeting, held at Sharm el-Sheik in Sinai on March 19, remains uncertain. It is very doubtful whether Israel will be able to stop the approaching tsunami of terrorism since this is a strategic decision by several terrorist organisations acting in coordination with Iran.

Meanwhile, terrorist cells are showing an increasing use of explosive devices in the West Bank, and attempts to employ them also within the territory of Israel itself. The Shin Bet has recently foiled several attacks using explosive devices by Palestinians from the West Bank, who were recruited by Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip through social media networks.

According to officials in the military wing of Hamas, the shooting attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv on March 9 marked a decision by the organisation to resume sponsoring attacks within Israel.

 

Hezbollah’s Tightening Coordination with Hamas and Islamic Jihad

According to Israeli security sources, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah increased his coordination meetings in Beirut with Ziyad al-Nakhala, the Secretary-General of PIJ, and with Saleh Al-Arouri, the head of the military wing of Hamas, in the lead up to Ramadan. An agreement was reached between Hezbollah, Hamas, PIJ, and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to increase terrorist activities in the coming days.

Nasrallah predicted in mid-March that Israel will collapse even before it marks its 80th Independence Day. The internal dispute in Israel and the wave of protest over the legal reform issue have increased the feeling among terrorist organisations that Israel is on the verge of disintegration and that this is the time to increase the pressure on it through terrorist acts.

Despite the hoopla at the time, the US-brokered agreement signed in October 2022 on the division of the Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary – designed to allow Lebanon to explore for offshore energy resources – has not reduced Hezbollah’s motivation to commit terrorist acts against Israel. Moreover, it allowed the Hamas organisation to strengthen its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon and in the refugee camps in Tyre and Sidon.

Hamas officials say that the attacks on Israel in the coming days will come from all directions, according to the doctrine of “unification of fronts”, including rocket fire from southern Lebanon and infiltration operations from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory.

According to security officials in Israel, coordinating all this malevolent activity is Iran, which in the past year has smuggled arms and funds through Jordan to the northern West Bank and into the hands of the terrorist organisations there.

The “axis of resistance” led by Iran is preparing for a major escalation over the month of Ramadan. Israel is preparing seriously for a scenario that may be more violent than the military conflict that took place in May 2021.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israeli radio and television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA). He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. © JCPA (jcpa.org), reprinted by permission, all rights reserved. 

RELATED ARTICLES

In Gaza, “the IDF continues to face one of the most difficult and complex combat environments any armed force has ever had to deal with,” yet has “taken all reasonable measures to achieve its mission while minimising harm to the civilian population” (Image: IDF)

The morality of IDF manoeuvres in Gaza

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
The Houthis are an integral part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, so it makes little sense to try to deter them independently (Image: Maad Ali/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News)

Stopping the Houthis requires thinking bigger

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
The proceedings against Israel in the International Court of Justice revealed a surreal disconnection from reality (screenshot)

Europa Europa: Upside down in the Hague

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Among UNRWA’s other long-standing problems, there are reports of its aid being seized by Hamas during the current war (Image: Anas Mohammed/ Shutterstock)

Eight things to know about UNRWA

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Jehezkel: Fired, arrested and deported for calling attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza (Image: X/ Twitter)

The Last Word: “Footballing while Jewish” and other crimes

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Image: Shutterstock

Media Microscope: Courting publicity

Jan 25, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review

SIGN UP FOR AIJAC EMAILS

EDITIONS BY YEAR