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By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, launched by Al-Qassam Brigades on 7/10/2023, dealt a historic blow to Israel, unprecedented since its founding, 75 years ago. A stunning strategic military and security attack, storming a significant area of the 1948 occupied territories, and inflicting the highest toll of killed, wounded and captured Israelis of all the battles that the Palestinians have fought since Israel’s establishment, a higher toll even than most Arab-Israeli regional wars.

Confused and shocked, Israel was humiliated, witnessing the failure of its security doctrine and the fall of its physical and psychological walls of deterrence. Witnessing how Al-Qassam Brigades, in just a few hours, took over 20 settlements and 11 military sites, made it realize its utter failure to subjugate the Palestinian people and crush their resistance.

Israeli Conduct:

Israel tried to pull itself together in order to comprehend the colossal historical magnitude of an attack that shocked it to the core, and made it recall the “existential threat” to its survival and project, in a hostile environment. Israel will first strive, with a great sense of urgency, to unify its internal front in order to demonstrate societal unity and cohesion, so that subsequent political and military decisions can be portrayed as expressions of a state of “national unity”; hence, it formed an emergency unity government.

Militarily, Israel will seek to restore the powerful deterrent image that was destroyed by Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. It will attempt this through launching a massive devastating military campaign against the Gaza Strip (GS), its infrastructure, and service and civil institutions; causing widespread terror to civilians; making them pay the price for the military attack of their leadership. Israel will make Palestinians pay a heavy price, by assassinating several political and military resistance leaders, especially those of Hamas, at home and even abroad. It will strive to seize the initiative and re-impose its conditions on the game.

Israel may consider more options than just restoring conditions to their pre-October state. From Israel’s massive barbaric and systematic bombing of GS, and the demand for the people of northern Gaza (about half the population) to move to the south of the Strip or Egypt, we can conclude that Israel has a desire to try to reshape the political and security map of the Strip. Possibilities may include a comprehensive ground invasion of GS, which due to the strong resistance infrastructure would be very costly to Israel, and fraught with failure; or a partial invasion, either to establish a “safe” border zone inside the Strip, or to bring about a territorial break-up of GS, by separating its north from its middle, and its middle from its south; and the third possibility is large-scale incursions into the Strip to carry out limited operations to break the power of the resistance, then withdraw after a few days, give or take, depending on the achievement of the goals.
The most likely scenario so far is a limited ground invasion, flexibly rolling through the Strip, meaning it could develop and change based on what happens on the ground; if Israel encounters fierce resistance and incurs significant losses, it will scale back its goals, whereas if it operates in a favorable environment, it will expand its goals.

Israel will benefit from the full support of the US and Europe, who have put aside any concerns and are providing both moral and material assistance.

Israel will also benefit from the global media, political and economic influence of the Zionist movement to distort the image of the Palestinian resistance, legitimize Israeli aggression, provide international support and cover for its brutality, and ignore its violations of international law even while it commits war crimes. The Zionism-supporting media-political-economic nexus will even seek to compare Hamas and other resistance forces to ISIS, even if such claims are based on lies and slander.

Resistance Conduct:

Perhaps the Palestinian resistance is aware of the expected costs of this strategic and historical military operation, and sees it as a do-or-die battle. The resistance is aware that it dealt Israel a harsh, humiliating blow that will provoke the latter to resort to barbaric revenge, in an attempt to restore its self-confidence and the deterrence image it had maintained for decades. Prior to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the resistance realized that Israel, under the leadership of its extremist government, was seeking to resolve the conflict, whether over the fate of al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, or the West Bank (WB), or by defeating the resistance in GS and the surrounding strategic environment. It also realized that the Israeli-US desire to proceed with the Arab-Israeli normalization process meant seeking to end the resistance inside and outside Palestine. It recognized that there are normalized Arab countries (or at least normalizing ones) that consider resistance an obstacle to their normalization process as it inspires and incites their peoples against their own political corruption. The resistance knows that these countries will try to muffle the dissenting voices in the media, absorb the reactions of their people, and observe the attack on the resistance while suffering the fewest possible losses to their own agendas. Therefore, GS is expected to be under a perilous level of pressure.

Given the above, the resistance, in its pursuit of its goals, must conduct a thorough assessment of the situation and its own position; and make the most of its abilities and resources during these crucial times. It must not be overconfident based on the success of the first strike, and not underestimate the capabilities of Israel and its allies.

It is expected first that the resistance will focus on consolidating its internal front, making it more cohesive; building a wider base of support for the resistance, the achievement of the aspirations of the Palestinian people and the protection of GS; avoiding factional disputes and temporary disagreements; safeguarding and nurturing its advocates and supporters, especially in GS, and giving them full support in any way possible.

Second, now is the time to make the “unity of the fronts” strategy a reality, with the participation of resistance forces inside and outside Palestine, and if Israel launches a full or partial invasion of GS, the pertinence of this option will increase. The resistance forces outside Palestine cannot leave GS to bear the brunt of this aggression alone because the head of the resistance in Lebanon and other forces will be the next target as the map of the Middle East is redrawn to match Israeli-US conditions.

Third, the resistance can benefit from the Israeli prisoners they hold captive to stop Israel’s targeting of civilians, and to achieve honorable prisoner swap deals that would empty Israel’s prisons of all Palestinian prisoners.

Fourth, it is necessary to galvanize public opinion and build the momentum of resistance supporters and advocates, increasing their interaction in WB, the 1948 territories, the Arab and Muslim world, and internationally, similar to what happened during the Sword of Jerusalem Battle (although it would need to be on a broader scale). This would build a situation that supports the resistance and puts pressure on Israel to end its aggression against GS and stop targeting civilians. It would also expose Israel’s true nature, hold it accountable for its crimes; in short, it would blow Israel’s cover.

Fifth, it is of utmost importance that the resistance communicates with Arab, Muslim and other countries, especially those who understand the resistance’s point of view, to expose all forms of pro-Israel propaganda and remind these countries of their historical responsibilities. In addition to the Arab and Muslim countries, there are prominent countries, such as Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa, that reject the GS siege and the violence against it; oppose the Israeli occupation of WB and GS; and understand the causes of armed resistance. They can have a role in stopping the aggression, while many countries, including European ones, can denounce targeting civilians.

In such an atmosphere, the resistance’s steadfastness, its refusal to yield to any form of pressure or blackmail, the alignment of military performance with political performance; the measures taken to ensure that the war does not drag on after the desired outcomes have been achieved, and choosing the time to withdraw from the battle with dignity while preserving the gains; will all provide more conducive environment for managing the confrontations.


Finally, Israel is struggling between its desire to take revenge on and crushing the resistance in GS, and its dread of failure. Therefore, it will do everything in its power to achieve victory, or “an appearance of victory.” However, the chances of failure are not insignificant, and this may mean that October 7th will go down in history, whether as a qualitative achievement for the resistance, or as an important milestone on the path to ending the occupation and liberating Palestine.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 16/10/2023

The opinions expressed in all the publications and studies are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Zaytouna Centre.

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