The Palestinian Resistance also engaging in psychological warfare

A general view of the eastern part of the Gaza Strip from Gaza City, on July 10, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Thomas Coex)
Published Friday, July 11, 2014
At the start of the confrontation between the Resistance and Israel, the latter had absolute supremacy in using psychological warfare against the Palestinians. But the armed Palestinian Resistance factions have since worked to improve their capabilities in information and propaganda, creating a counter-deterrent using the Internet and the language of the other side.
Gaza – In conjunction with the physical warfare between Palestinian Resistance factions and Israel, the two sides are also engaged in psychological warfare, with a view to weaken and overwhelm the home front of the other side. No doubt, the two sides often hit and often miss, but in general, the Resistance’s communicators have sent out effective messages this time, even outdoing Israel, which has only rehashed its old propaganda seen in every previous round of conflict so far.
Military psychology experts say that the new development in this context is that the Palestinians are no longer afraid of the leaflets dropped by Israeli warplanes in order to turn the civilian population against the Resistance or force civilians to evacuate their homes, especially along the border areas.
The Resistance has launched a strong assault targeting the morale of the Israeli public, broadcasting videos in Hebrew focusing on its military capabilities, including its medium-range rocket arsenal and amphibious commandos. The Resistance has also called on Israelis to evacuate their homes, and hacked websites to display its messages. Recall that during the last conflict in Gaza, the Resistance had leaked the names and numbers of thousands of Israeli army officers.

“The psychological makeup of the Resistance is solid… This helps raise its morale, unlike the case of the occupation, which is rattled by the sight of rockets and by protracted fighting.” – Military psychology professor

 

To Ismail Abu Rkab, a professor of military psychology from the Palestine Security College in Gaza, these messages seek to influence the attitudes of the internal front, and subsequently the public’s emotions and behavior, “to weaken the occupation’s morale and among Israelis in general.” Speaking to Al-Akhbar, he said, “Each side in the conflict knows the weaknesses of the other, and tries to focus on them to twist the other’s arm; however, the Palestinians’ weakness, namely the deliberate targeting of their civilians, has not affected the Resistance, as evidenced by the escalation of its operations against the occupation and the endurance of its popularity.”
In this regard, Abu Rkab says, “The psychological makeup of the Resistance is solid, and relies on the religious and spiritual aspect. This helps raise its morale, unlike the case of the occupation, which is rattled by the sight of rockets and by protracted fighting.” “The occupation is trying through its messages to influence citizens and to demoralize the Resistance, practically by targeting homes and public places,” he added.
On the other hand, the military psychology expert believes that the Resistance “has succeeded in conveying its psychological messages, which were developed based on previous experience.” Abu Rkab praised the propaganda war led by the military wing of the Palestinian factions, which he said was built on sound scientific foundations designed to raise the morale of the Palestinian people and do the opposite in the enemy front.
In the same vein, a number of security pundits in Palestine say that Israel’s threatening rhetoric, including against civilians, was due to the lack of solid intelligence among Tel Aviv’s security agencies regarding the location of Resistance fighters and its weapons storage areas. It is important to note here one Israeli army officer’s admission, quoted by Yediot Ahronot, that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have hundreds of rockets that Israel does not know about. The officer said this was different from what happened during Operation Pillar of Cloud, when half of Hamas’ stockpile of long-range rockets was destroyed during the first air strikes.
Abu Rkab commented on this by saying, “He who has information has power. For this reason, Israel is trying to restore its deterrence at the expense of civilians, in light of its lack of solid intelligence.” Abu Rkab also noted that the occupation has been trying to fabricate information for the benefit of its home front, “to manipulate attitudes regarding Israel’s security in general.”

 

The occupation’s lack of information regarding the existing security situation, to security expert Ibrahim Habib, resembles the situation that existed during the 2006 July War in Lebanon. Back then, he said, “The Israeli people would await the speeches of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to learn the latest in the war, in light of the Israeli leadership’s lack of accurate intelligence and the state of confusion it was in.”
In comments to Al-Akhbar, Habib said, “It is clear that the Israeli home front no longer believes its media and leadership, because of the large number of false claims they make. For this reason, the Israeli home front is influenced by the Resistance’s sporadic messages.”
Habib added, “the Resistance has created confusion among the Israelis, with the videos it broadcasted showing its military capabilities.”
The security expert said the Israeli SMS warning messages sent to Palestinians, for example, as well as direct calls to warn them against collaborating with the Resistance or asking them to leave their homes, were an attempt to intimidate the Palestinian people, stressing that this highlighted the state of failure in the Israeli intelligence community.
In the context of psychological warfare, which according to psychologists is a form of non-lethal warfare, technology experts said Israel recently attempted to fabricate video footage relating to a raid by al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military arm, on the Israeli Zikim military base near Ashkelon. The Israelis wanted to show that Hamas’ commandos were killed before they could hit any targets. Habib said the attempt came from the military censor in Israel, to cover up the infiltration of Israeli bases and the strong blow suffered at the hands of a simple group of Resistance commandos.
He said, “It was clear that Israel was hurt as a result of this operation, which was repeated over two consecutive days by two different groups of Palestinian marines. This explains why Israel closed the entire shore to holidaymakers, fearing for their lives.” He then added, “The biggest source of confusion for the occupation at this time is the Resistance’s ability to hide and camouflage itself. This will exhaust the military and push it to make concerted covert efforts to reveal the Resistance’s locations and the location of its rocket stockpiles.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza has called on the Palestinians to ignore Israel’s psychological operations, including the rumors in Israeli media, the leaflets being dropped by Israeli planes, and calls to Palestinians on their phones. The ministry also called on them to “not interact with all those methods meant to weaken our home front, in light of the great resilience of our people in the face of aggression,” saying that what the occupation is doing reflects its intelligence failures in Gaza.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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