Decoding Hamas's Military Strategy in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

"Hamas exploits the suffering of Palestinians for its political and military gain, prolonging the conflict." ~ Israeli Human Rights Advocate

Hamas an acronym for “Harkat al-Muqaqama al-Islamiya” (Islamic Resistance Movement), a Palestinian militant organisation currently led by Mohammad Deif and his deputy Commander-in-Chief Marwan Issa (aka The Shadow Man) forged in the crucible of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a complex and controversial force that has, for decades, defied conventional boundaries and perspectives. At the intersection of politics and armed resistance, Hamas embodies an unyielding determination to champion its vision of a united, Islamic Palestine, often employing unconventional tactics to assert its presence. With an intricate blend of grassroots support, asymmetric warfare, and a steadfast rejection of the two-state solution, Hamas remains a polarising entity in a deeply entrenched conflict. Understanding this multifaceted organisation is not merely an academic endeavour; it is essential for comprehending the intricate dynamics of the Middle East.

amas has received support from various sources over the years, and Iran has been one of its significant supporters. Iran has provided financial assistance, military aid, and political backing to Hamas. This support has enabled Hamas to enhance its military capabilities and maintain its influence in the Palestinian territories. However, it's important to note that this relationship is a matter of international concern and has geopolitical implications, with Iran's backing of Hamas contributing to regional tensions in the Middle East.

Hamas, a Palestinian militant organisation founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin-a Palestinian cleric, with a political wing, has long been a prominent actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their military strategy is a complex and evolving aspect of their operations. Understanding Hamas's military approach requires delving into their historical context, their ideological underpinnings, and their utilisation of asymmetric warfare.

Hamas was established in 1987 during the First Intifada, with its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (The Ezzedine/Al-Qassam Brigades), forming shortly thereafter. Hamas's military strategy has always been closely tied to its political objectives. The organisation's primary goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including Israel, and the rejection of the two-state solution. To achieve this goal, Hamas employs a mix of political and military tactics.

One key aspect of Hamas's military strategy is its reliance on asymmetric warfare. Given the vast disparity in military capabilities between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), direct confrontation is not a viable option. Instead, Hamas employs guerrilla tactics, including rocket attacks and suicide bombings, to target Israeli civilians and military infrastructure. This strategy serves both military and propaganda purposes, as it keeps Israel on the defensive and garners attention on the international stage. The use of rocket attacks, in particular, has been a hallmark of Hamas's military operations. These projectiles, often crude but increasingly sophisticated, are launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

Hamas also places a strong emphasis on tunnels, which have been used for smuggling, infiltration, and surprise attacks. These underground passageways enable the organisation to bypass Israel's security measures and carry out operations within Israeli territory. The discovery of these tunnels has led to significant tensions between Israel and Hamas.

Moreover, Hamas has invested in building a network of local supporters and informants. This network provides valuable intelligence and recruits individuals for both military and political roles. By blending into the local population, Hamas makes it challenging for Israeli security forces to identify and neutralise their operatives.

Hamas's military strategy is not limited to direct confrontation with Israel. The organisation also seeks to undermine the Palestinian Authority (PA), which it views as a rival to its rule in Gaza. This rivalry has led to episodes of internal Palestinian violence, such as the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas in 2007. By maintaining its own security apparatus and governing Gaza independently, Hamas consolidates its power and challenges the authority of the PA.

The use of propaganda and information warfare is another dimension of Hamas's military strategy. The organisation understands the importance of shaping the narrative, both within Palestinian society and on the international stage. Through its media outlets and online presence, Hamas promotes its resistance narrative, often emphasising civilian casualties and portraying itself as the defender of Palestinian rights.

While Hamas's military strategy is multi-faceted, it is not without its challenges and drawbacks. The use of violence, particularly rocket attacks, has drawn international condemnation and often results in Palestinian civilian casualties. This can strain relationships with international supporters and complicate its political goals.

Hamas's military strategy is intricately linked to its political objectives and ideological stance. As an asymmetric actor in a highly asymmetric conflict, it employs a range of tactics, from rocket attacks to tunnels and information warfare, to pursue its goals. While effective in some respects, these tactics also come with significant risks and costs, making the situation in Gaza and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict a complex and enduring challenge.

The Degree of Thought Column is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. The column explored contemporary social, cultural, political, and educational issues and challenges around us. However, the views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC-accredited, UCG-recognized Commerce and Arts college. Currently, the Degree of Thought Column is managed by the department of Mass Communication, and the editorial team are Dr Jenny Lalmuanpuii, KC Gabriela and Rinsit Sareo. For feedback or comments, please