October 19, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10889

Exclusive Report By Iranian News Agency Tasnim: 'The "Mighty Pillar" Maneuvers Were The Resistance [Organizations'] Planning For An Attack On Israel; [They Constituted] Four Years Of Training The Palestinians For 'Al-Aqsa Flood'

October 19, 2023
Iran, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10889

The Iranian news agency Tasnim, which is affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published, on October 15, 2023, an exclusive report titled "The 'Mighty Pillar' Maneuvers Were The Resistance [Organizations'] Planning For An Attack On Israel; [They Constituted] Four Years Of Training The Palestinians For 'Al-Aqsa Flood.'" The report extensively reviewed documentation of Hamas members' training in maneuvers held in the past four years in advance of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

It should be noted that Hamas belongs to the Iran-led resistance axis, as do the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Shi'ite militias in Syria and the Golan Heights, the Shi'ite militias in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen.

Also, on October 10, 2023, the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan boasted that the attack had been planned and organized by the late IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had hinted at the "complete conquest" of Israel in August 2022 and August 2023 (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10857, October 12, 2023).

The detailed Tasnim report has two aims. One is to praise and glorify the actions of Hamas, an Islamic resistance organization that is a protégé of the Iranian regime, and to show its superiority over Israel's intelligence, organizational, and military capabilities.

The second reason for the report's publication is to claim that Iran is not connected to the Palestinians' actions and that the capabilities Hamas showed were the result of its own training, determination, and courage. However, it is clear from the Tasnim report that Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei himself had announced the name of "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood" years before it was carried out, and also in these statements had ordered the establishment of a joint command and control center of the resistance groups – groups operated, trained, and armed by Iran under the supervision of Soleimani and, after him, current Qods Force commander Esma'il Qa'ani. According to the Tasnim report, Khamenei said: "It is no surprise that the fighters and activists from all the [resistance] factions are coordinating all their efforts to fight the enemy, in training, equipment, preparation, and execution of a joint battle in the field."

The Tasnim report included photos from the Hamas training as well as photos taken during the attack on Israel on October 7; in the latter, the faces of the Hamas members were blurred.

It should be noted that along with the training and maneuvers for the October 7 attack, the report also detailed training that was carried out in preparation for a possible Israeli military ground incursion in Gaza.

The following is a translation of the Tasnim report, with the photos and a video that it included:[1] 

"Since 2019, the Palestinian resistance fighters have been preparing themselves to carry out the Al-Aqsa Flood operation by forming a command and control network and planning the 'Mighty Pillar' maneuvers.

"Over a week has passed since the beginning of the 'Al-Aqsa Flood' operation, and the fierce battle between the resistance fighters and the Zionist army continues. So far the resistance fighters have inflicted upon the Zionist regime approximately 1,500 casualties with its ground maneuvers and rocket barrage. On the other hand, approximately 2,300 people from the Gaza Strip were killed in the Zionist regime airstrikes.

"From the very first day of the battle, the issue that most surprised all the experts and analysts was the Hamas fighters' high level of preparation, as well the information security needed for carrying out such an operation. Zionist elements tried to attribute this issue [i.e. success] to Iran, and to pretend that the resistance fighters are incapable of planning, training, and preparing for such an operation.

"However, by reviewing the operations and activity of the Palestinian resistance factions, we can see that they had been preparing for such an operation for about four years, and that they carried out the final stage of maneuvers only a month before the beginning of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

"Since 2020, the Palestinian resistance factions' fighters carried out a series of joint maneuvers [called] 'Mighty Pillar,' by establishing a joint operations room. Subsequently, these maneuvers took place every year, with specific targets. Yet the confusion and surprise of the Zionist regime's security apparatus show they had not taken these maneuvers very seriously."

The article included a clip showing a Hamas drill – a simulation of breaching the border fence, invading military positions and kibbutzim, overpowering soldiers and civilians, launching rockets against armored vehicles as well as for longer distances, amphibious maneuvers, and more. This clip was translated and published by MEMRI three weeks before the attack.

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below

The Tasnim article continues: "The first joint drill by the resistance group, called 'Mighty Pillar 1,'  took place on December 29, 2020. In its statement announcing the beginning of the Mighty Pillar 1 drill, the joint operations room of the Palestinian factions emphasized: 'Given what our Palestinian ideal and our beloved homeland are experiencing, from north to south, and [how] our people are beset by injustice, siege, [Jewish] settlements, and aggression, while our holy places are invaded by the Jews and desecrated, we, the Palestinian resistance factions, are committed to our martyrs and prisoners, and have not forsaken our promise to the people to continue on the path of resistance, jihad, and struggle.

"This is the same point made by the revolutionary leader [Khamenei] at the cadet graduation ceremonies at the army's officer training universities: 'When the cruelty and crimes cross the line – the storm awakens' [the Farsi name for the Hamas operation is 'Al-Aqsa Storm'].

"In another part of [Khamenei's] statement, the founding of a joint command and control center by the resistance factions was revealed, and the statement declared: 'It is no surprise that the fighters and activists from all the [resistance] factions are coordinating all their efforts to fight the enemy, in training, equipment, preparation, and execution of a joint battle in the field.'

"Resistance fighters practice clearing a building in the 'Mighty Pillar 1' maneuvers

"Another point worth noting in this statement is that the joint operations room of the resistance factions emphasizes that these maneuvers will be carried out under the direction of the joint command and control center, from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip, using war munitions. In addition, the aim of these maneuvers is to increase the readiness of the resistance factions by simulating actual battle conditions and facing possible scenarios of enemy attacks.

"An examination of the photos of the Mighty Pillar maneuvers show that the resistance forces actually jointly practiced, over four years, all the scenarios that they actualized in [Operation] Al-Aqsa Flood and on the battlefield. One of the main exercises of the resistance forces involved  urban warfare and infiltrating the Zionist communities, clearing and taking over buildings, rapidly transporting forces, and taking over the military bases of the [Zionist] regime.  

Resistance fighters practice amphibious warfare and infiltrating enemy shores in Mighty Pillar 1 maneuver

"Amphibious warfare operation carried out by Hamas as part of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"Another component of the resistance fighters' Mighty Pillar maneuvers involved ground warfare and confronting an invasion of the Gaza Strip by the army of the [Zionist] regime. This part [of the maneuver] focused mainly on practicing [combat against] armored vehicles, especially the [Israeli] Merkava tanks, with guided anti-armor missiles, mines, booby traps, and Yasin anti-armor rockets, as well as close-quarters combat and capturing the teams of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers. This scenario was practiced in various ways in all four [Mighty Pillar] maneuvers, which shows that the resistance forces invested serious efforts in this area.

"Another part of the resistance fighters' joint drills was practicing infiltration via the beaches, and naval warfare using various types of naval mines, in the first of the Mighty Pillar maneuvers.

"Resistance fighters practice attacking and capturing a base of the Zionist regime

"Resistance fighters infiltrate a base of the Zionist regime in [the actual] Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"These are more or less the same operations carried out by the Hamas fighters on the ground in the first day of the battle [Operation Al-Aqsa Flood], which caused an unprecedented number of casualties and which amazed the army and intelligence apparatuses of the regime that is occupying Jerusalem [i.e. Israel].

"One year after [the first drill], the Mighty Pillar 2 drill was held, on December 26, 2021, to similar specifications as the previous one. This drill focused on crossing the wall [or] border barrier between the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories [Israel], even though the border between the Gaza Strip and Occupied Palestine is controlled by intensive security measures and even cement walls that extend far into the ground to prevent the resistance forces from tunneling [under the border].

"Firing Yasin rockets at armored vehicles in the Mighty Pillar 2 maneuver

"Resistance fighters using Yasin rocket in [the actual] Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"The Mighty Pillar 3 maneuver began on December 28, 2022 near the border of the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories. This drill, held by the elite forces of the resistance [emphasis by MEMRI], focused on rapid response and on how quickly the resistance forces can cross the border fence and infiltrate the communities and military bases of the Zionist regime. Another scenario in this maneuver was training the resistance fighters to capture Israeli soldiers and prominent commanders as part of [the actual] Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. [which was carried out on October 7]. This maneuver was the turning point of the Mighty Pillar drills and tested [the abilities] of the special and elite forces of the resistance, so that they would be in a state of high readiness on the day of the operation [itself].    

"Practicing capturing Zionist soldiers in the Mighty Pillar 3 maneuver

"Capturing Zionist soldiers in [the actual] Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"The fourth and final Mighty Pillar joint maneuver was held on September 9, 2023, that is, about one month before the beginning of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. This drill involved the final coordination of the joint command-and-control systems of the Palestinian resistance factions, and the commanders also visited the troops on the ground to make sure that the resistance fighters were ready.  

"Final coordination operations in Mighty Pillar 4 maneuver

"In the various phases of the Mighty Pillar joint maneuvers, the resistance fighters of the rocket, drone, and air defense and assistance units carried out their drills and also practiced ground warfare and special operations in order to infiltrate the Zionist communities and military bases, and capture soldiers and settlers [i.e. any and all Israelis]. [The operation was so successful] that on the first day of the fighting [on October 7] they managed to fire over 5,000 rockets into the occupied territories [Israel].  

"Drone units practicing during Mighty Pillar maneuvers

"Drone units operating in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"Rocket units practice during Mighty Pillar maneuvers

"Massive rocket fire by the resistance during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

"This shows that the planning of a new network of guerilla battles as part of a joint battle and a joint command-and-control network is [an idea] that the Palestinian fighters have been considering for years, and they managed to implement this strategy in full. During these maneuvers, the resistance forces naturally refrained from publicizing some of their capabilities, so as to keep the complete information secret from the enemy's intelligence apparatuses.

"A look at the joint command-and-control network of the resistance during the Mighty Pillar maneuvers

"The resistance fighters apparently conducted their drills in a way that did not [cause] the enemy to think that they were actually capable of carrying out such detailed operations on the basis of these drills. [Thus] perhaps in the first hours of the operation the enemy thought he was seeing [just another] drill. In any case, the resistance factions have so far proved that their military strategies, which are rooted in asymmetrical guerilla warfare, are based on full knowledge of the weaknesses and strengths of the Zionist regime, and that they have matured in planning every type of operation and in training and equipping their forces and supporting the various phases of the operations.

"On the other hand, the Israeli army and security apparatuses did not accurately grasp the specific strategies and tactics of the resistance fighters – despite their dozens of war encounters with the Palestinian forces. That is why they have so far failed to adopt any specific strategy in the war with Hamas and with the other resistance factions."  


[1] Tasnim (Iran), October 15, 2023.

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