War between Israel and Gaza: The factor of surprise and deception, Hamas' main weapons | International

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Last Saturday, Hamas used relatively modern weapons to establish itself in Israeli territory, killing at least 1,200 people in a few hours and kidnapping about 130, largely civilians. The fundamentalist organization used drones, homemade projectiles, paragliders and even an excavator to break a fence. He managed to cross in 29 points the six-meter-high fence with which Israel surrounded the 41 kilometers long and ten kilometers wide that border the Gaza Strip, where 2.2 million Palestinians live. But the most decisive thing, according to what the consulted specialists maintain, were weapons as ancient as they were effective: the factor of surprise and deception of the enemy.

Fabian Hinz, military analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), believes that the main novelty of the attack is the momentary combination of all the factors: missile launches, use of paragliders, arrival of small boats and use of drones. “Thinking about such an operation and convincing other people about its convenience can be difficult. Keeping it a secret is more complicated. And what is truly complex is executing it, making it effective,” he says via video conference.

The analyst believes that Hamas militants have been able to benefit from the fact that Israel never thought that this organization intended to start a war. Regarding the possibility that Hamas has been supported by Iran, Hinz acknowledges that it is very difficult to prove it. “We do not know if Tehran was aware of the operation. What we do know is that Iran has been teaching Hamas for years to make its own missiles. The weapons that are smuggled into Gaza are light, mostly rifles. But the rockets or projectiles are handmade, their own. They can weigh between 20 and 300 kilos, although most weigh around 100 kilos. Those that have been used until now do not have a precision guide. "We don't know if Hamas is saving those missiles for later." Authorities in Tehran have denied any involvement in the operation of the fundamentalist militia that rules Gaza.

4,000 projectiles in three days

Hamas has launched 4,000 projectiles in three days, a figure similar to the 4,360 it fired in May 2021 during the 11 days that the war lasted. On this occasion the Israeli defensive air system, known as the Iron Dome, has been overwhelmed. Nobody knows what arsenal the fundamentalist militia still has. In 2021, Israeli intelligence services estimated that the total number of rockets held by the various factions in Gaza was about 30,000. For his part, Hinz believes that it is very likely that he has some military resource that he has not yet used.

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The paraglider attack was not unknown to the Israeli army. On the night of November 25, 1987, a Palestinian used a hang glider to reach the Israeli camp of Gibor from southern Lebanon, where he killed six soldiers.

Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.Fatima Shbair (AP)

Analyst Hinz believes that the decisive factor in the coming days will be whether Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah joins the war. “Hamas is 15 or 20 years behind Hezbollah, in terms of military preparation. The Shiite militia has Iranian Fateh-110 missiles, which weigh 500 kilos and have a range of 300 kilometers,” he explains.

A Western expert who demands anonymity and who maintains the account on the social network Obscura Caliberwith 182,000 followers, agrees to highlight that none of the weapons used by Hamas until now – rockets, drones, boats, paragliders – are new for this group. “But,” he argues, “combining all these factors has been very effective.” For this specialist, the key factor has been a strict policy of what is known as OPSEC (Operational Security, in English), the ability to keep an operation of this caliber secret. “In addition,” adds the aforementioned expert, “the distraction strategy and, ultimately, the surprise factor have been key.”

For his part, Lucas Webber, co-founder of the Militant Wire site, explains by email that Hamas has strengthened its arsenal and operational capacity in recent years. “The group,” he adds, “has developed an indigenous cottage arms industry that includes drones, multiple launch rocket systems and air defense systems, all of which were used in the recent attack.”

Webber believes that if Israel undertakes the invasion of the Gaza Strip, it will have to face grenades, drones, landmines and mortars. “Israeli forces will enter a hostile environment that is also one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. The abundant tall buildings also allow for ambushes and sniping. “This type of urban warfare will pose challenges despite Israel’s considerable military advantages over Hamas.”

The Spanish security analyst, Jesús Manuel Pérez Triana, considers that the most relevant aspect of the attack from a technical point of view has been the efficient use of drones. “Before they used very rudimentary drones. Now it is as if they imitated the devices of the Ukrainian war. We have also seen in videos how they destroyed Israeli surveillance towers with drones. “That attack served to blind the Israeli command post.”

However, Pérez Triana points out that the key factor has been the chain of errors that Israel has made, induced by Hamas. “Everyone made the same mistake of thinking that since 2021 Hamas no longer wanted to enter any war. The destruction to the organization's infrastructure and the loss of key leaders in the spring 2021 conflict with Israel appeared to have achieved the result of deterring Hamas from attacking Israel, which turned its attention to the West Bank. The Israelis thought that Hamas only wanted to increase work permits for Gazans. But in reality, the organization was preparing for a large-scale attack.”

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