February 15, 2018 No.

Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel's Airstrikes In Syria: 'Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts'

Following Israel's downing of the Iranian drone that entered its airspace on February 10, 2018 and its subsequent attack on the drone's command center in Syria, Hamas and other major Palestinian factions such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, condemned the Israeli attacks and announced that their military wings were raising their level of alert. The statements and announcements issued by the various factions stressed that all the resistance axis fronts confronting Israel constituted a single front, and that any Israeli attack on the other resistance axis fronts – i.e., in Syria or Lebanon – would be met with a response by the Palestinians in Gaza. This message was also repeated in articles and commentary in Hamas-affiliated papers and websites.

In an interview given by Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, an advisor to Iran's foreign minister, to the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Risala, he said that there is "a strategic move to form a unified front in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza," and that "the activity to form this front has not stopped, but is increasing."[1] These statements follow numerous meetings and contacts in recent months among various resistance axis elements, which also addressed the possibility of joint action against Israel.[2] 

The statements by Sheikh Al-Islam correspond to Iran's years-long policy of acting by means of its proxies, a policy from which it deviated momentarily several days ago when it sent its drone into Israeli airspace.[3] It should be mentioned that Iran recently stepped up its preparations for a strike against Israel by revealing the direct contacts of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. There have also been increased visits by Iranian officials on the Lebanon-Israel border."[4]

The report reviews statements by Hamas and the Palestinian factions about forming a joint resistance front against Israel following the February 10 events in Syria.  

"Aggression Against The Resistance Anywhere Mandates A Response And Action By Everyone"

Following the downing of the Israeli jet in Syria,[5] Abu 'Obaida, spokesman for Hamas's military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, tweeted that the Brigades had raised their level of alert "in order to defend the Palestinian people and respond to any Zionist attack, in light of the events in the north of occupied Palestine."[6]

'Izz Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu 'Obaida

Abu 'Obaida's tweet

Two days later, he tweeted that the downing of the Israeli jet was "a heroic act," and called to "clip the wings of the enemy in order to deter him from carrying out acts of aggression against our Arab and Islamic nation."[7]

Hamas official Osama Hamdan also addressed the events, stating that nobody should rule out the possibility that the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades would respond to Israeli aggression in Syria and Lebanon, for "aggression against the resistance anywhere mandates response and action by everyone." He added: "Today [February 10] the resistance, headed by the Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza, will hold military maneuvers in preparation for any Israeli aggression." According to him, "the occupation has realized that its assessment regarding the different fronts is inaccurate... Israel has started to realize that its next campaign against the resistance will be a comprehensive campaign against the entire resistance axis, not a partial one [on a single front]... The resistance is now more united and better able to confront [Israel]... What happened today completely changes the situation in the region and is a blow to the plan to eliminate the Palestinian cause [a reference to U.S. President Trump's political initiative]."[8] 

A statement issued by the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Abu 'Ali Mustafa Brigades, said that "Israeli aggression on any front will trigger a comprehensive war on all fronts." It stated further: "Tel Aviv will no longer be able to isolate Gaza, Lebanon or Syria... The resistance axis is ready for confrontation and ready to thwart all schemes against the Palestinian and Arab people...The equation of confrontation changed today in favor of the resistance axis, and Syria is now able to stop the [Israeli] aggression, defeat it and force it to pay the price."[9] PFLP official Maher Al-Taher stressed that "the resistance axis has taken a strategic decision that any Israeli attack on any front will be answered with a comprehensive campaign on all fronts."[10]

The spokesman of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Daoud Shihab, remarked that "the Israeli deterrence has taken a severe blow following the downing of the F-16 by the Syrian defense systems in the Golan," and that the Palestinian resistance factions must be "on maximum alert in light of the Israeli maneuvers."[11] The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the National Resistance Brigades, likewise announced that it had raised its level of alert "in preparation for any Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip." The announcement underlined Syria's right "to defend its sovereignty on land, sea and air," as well as the DFLP's support for the Syrian people, "which is defending its land against the Israeli aggression." It added: "We are not interested in a military escalation, [which will worsen] the accumulating crises afflicting our Palestinian people, but if war is forced upon us, we shall not stand with our arms shackled but respond forcefully to defend our Palestinian people." It concluded by stating that all the forces of the National Resistance Brigades are continuing their preparations, and continuing to equip themselves with every military and logistical means [required] for "the next battle with Israel, should it break out."[12]

Commentators Close To Hamas: Hamas Will Not Allow The Enemy To Isolate One Resistance Front While Disregarding The Others

The threat that any Israeli attack on one element in the resistance axis will lead to comprehensive war with the entire axis also appeared in articles and commentary in the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Risala and on Hamas-affiliated websites. A February 10 article in Al-Risala quoted various military and political analysts, among them military expert Mahmoud Mardawi, who said: "The announcement of the Al-Qassam [Brigades] conveys a message to the Israeli enemy, the gist of which is... that nobody can take lightly any Israeli act of aggression by which Israel seeks to isolate one of the three fronts... [The announcement] also contains a message for the Syrians and to anyone else who is a target for the aggression of the [Israeli] occupation, that the Al-Qassam [Brigades] and the Palestinian resistance will not conceivably allow the enemy to isolate one front [while disregarding] the others, as happened in the past, and that the rules of the confrontation will no longer correspond to Israel's wishes." He added that the announcement "confronts the enemy with difficult and complicated decisions, should it decide to launch a war on any of the three resistance fronts." Political analyst Hussam Al-Dajani said, in a similar vein: "The Al-Qassam announcement ushers in a new era in the conflict with the occupation... [It] stresses that the previous rules of play vis-à-vis the occupation have changed, and that the components of the resistance [axis] in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Iran are now certainly ready to respond to any foolish Israeli [move] against any of these four [components]."[13]

Journalist Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, who is close to Hamas and writes for its mouthpiece Al-Risala, addressed Hamas's announcement about raising its level of alert in response to the downing of the Israeli jet, saying: "The Al-Qassam Brigades did not distance themselves from the event, and their immediate readiness to support the position of the resistance is a point in their favor. They announced they were raising their level of alert... in light of the events in the north of Palestine, and this should be understood as [expressing] complete readiness for any future war and [as an announcement] that, in the case of an attack on Syria and its people, or on Lebanon and its resistance [i.e., Hizbullah], the Al-Qassam Brigades will support their allies and will not allow the occupation to isolate our [various] Arab peoples. This announcement is a quality development on the part of the Palestinian resistance, expressing a tight bond with allies that can rally around their hostility to Israel. It is a blow to the occupation doctrine that divides the resistance forces and deals with each front separately. This announcement will cause the occupation to think 1,000 times before launching an attack on Lebanon or Syria."[14]  

In a similar vein, Musafa Al-Sawwaf, another Hamas-affiliated columnist, wrote that following the Israeli attack in Syria, and the downing of the Israeli jet, "the prevailing question was what the position of the Palestinian resistance in Gaza would be if [Israel] were to carry out an attack on Lebanon, and what the position of the resistance would be if another attack were to be carried out. It was assessed that the attack on Lebanon [i.e., on] Hizbullah, would prompt the Palestinian resistance to open a support front and to engage the occupation [in it] – since the occupation does not think to open more than one front [at a time] because this causes great confusion on its internal front. Although the occupation has sufficient military capability to fight on both fronts, as far as forces and equipment are concerned, this might that only Israel has will lose its value if [its] internal front collapses as a result of Hizbullah and the Palestinian resistance.... firing [rockets] at all the [Zionist] entity's territory...

"The question is this: If war breaks out between Lebanon, [i.e.,] Hizbullah, [and Israel], will the Palestinian resistance participate in it and open a front in the south, from the Gaza Strip? True, the Gaza Strip is exhausted; its economic situation is bad; and the siege is putting down roots everywhere – all this is taken into account in the assessment of the situation. Also taken into account is the option in which we allow Israel to act separately against Lebanon and then separately against the resistance in the Gaza Strip.

"In my assessment, this time the Palestinian resistance will not allow Israel to isolate Lebanon, and every attack against Lebanon or against Gaza will mean a comprehensive attack [i.e.,] a response from the other fronts that were not attacked... The overall assessment is that Israel, at least at this time, is not planning a new attack, even though the option of attack exists. This requires taking cautionary measures, and this is what the Al-Qassam Brigades and the Palestinian resistance has done with the declaration of the state of alert in their ranks..."[15]

'Issam Shawar, columnist for the Hamas-affiliated Filastin daily, expressed a different view. He wrote: "The Al-Qassam Brigades' announcement of the raised alert level is expected, in light of the extremely tense atmosphere in which all the options are being taken into account – including a shift of Israel's struggle to the side it perceives as weak, and that is the Gaza Strip. At the same time, we should not go too far in interpretation, to the point of thinking that the Al-Qassam Brigades will launch a war if the occupation state starts a blitzkrieg against one of the neighboring countries, because the Al-Qassam Brigades did not say this, and because we have not heard of an agreement between the Al-Qassam Brigades and other sides, including joint defense... Accordingly, commentators and media members should not interpret the Al-Qassam Brigades' alert the way they want, as if it is required by reality, even if there is a small chance that this will happen... The Palestinian resistance is not interested in war, but it is preparing for it, and it will not ally with external elements unless the occupation state Israel forces it into this equation."[16]


[1], February 2, 2018.

[4] On December 11, 2017, it was reported that Soleimani had spoken by telephone with the commanders of the military wings of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and instructed them to recruit new activists in the West Bank. It was also reported that he had told them that the arming of the West Bank was a top priority for Iranian Leader Khamenei, and that Tehran was ready to help support the Palestinian Islamic resistance forces in all ways. It was further reported that Soleimani had pointed out that the other resistance groups in the region were ready to defend Al-Aqsa mosque (Tasnim, Iran, December 11, 2017; Al-Jarida, Kuwait, December 13, 2017). About visits by Iranian officials, as well as officials from Iran-backed Shi'ite militias, to the Israel-Lebanon border, such as Khamenei's associate Ebrahim Raisi and Iraqi militia commander Qais Al-Khazali, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.7313, Ebrahim Raisi, Associate And Designated Heir Of Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, At Lebanon-Israel Border: 'Soon We Will Witness The Liberation Of Jerusalem,' February 2, 2018; MEMRI TV Clip No. 6308, Iraqi Shiite Militia Commander Qais Al-Khazali Enters Lebanon, Visits Israeli Border, December 8, 2017.

[5] The jet was bombing Iran-backed positions in Syria in response to the dispatching of the Iranian drone, and was downed by anti-aircraft fire while returning from its mission. 

[6], February 10, 2018.

[7], February 12, 2018.

[8], February 10, 2018. Palestinian spokesmen have lately been referring to Trump's "Deal of the Century" in this manner. For example, Hamas official Khalil Al-Haya called it the first of several plans aimed at "eliminating the Palestine cause." See, February 2, 2018.

[9], February 10, 2018.

[10], February 10, 2018.

[11], February 10, 2018.

[12], February 10, 2018.

[13], February 10, 2018.

[14], February 12, 2018.

[15], February 12, 2018.

[16], February 11, 2018.