The first major Hamas siege of Israel triggered the imminent reaction of the Israeli state. Reprisals against Gaza were foreseeable; no respectable state stands idly by while the enemy fires missiles at its capital. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were counting on the reaction in their war calculations, first for their political interests, then for their propaganda.
The problem for the terrorist organization is that it basically did not know (or does not really know) how strong the reaction of the Israeli authorities will be. This uncertainty was exploited through a fake land invasion, or rather: Israel’s great deception that confused Hamas and the world.
In the early hours of this Friday, May 14 (Jerusalem time), Israel announced that “IDF air and ground forces are attacking in Gaza”. The official IDF account promised details soon.
The tweet set off the alarms. War reporters prepared cameras and pens to cover what was on the horizon, a fatal confrontation between Hamas and Israeli ground troops. However, the coverage was different, the news was not the men killed in hand-to-hand combat, but the more than 450 bombs that fell on Gaza’s tunnels in a 35-minute span.
As Israel National News explains, the IDF announcement caused “Israel’s military columnists to understand this to mean that armored corps and artillery deployed near Gaza would attack, but the unclear warning led foreign reporters to report the start of a ground operation in Gaza.”
Notably, the IDF not only announced the ground invasion, but moved “Infantry, artillery and tanks (…) toward the IDF border, and Hamas believed that Israel was about to launch a ground invasion.”
“Consequently,” Israel National News explains, “Hamas sent its fighters into its subway tunnel system under Gaza City.” Crass mistake.
Just as the world and journalists were misled, so was Hamas. What was brewing was not a ground invasion, but a decoy; a tactic that created the “real threat” in the media and on the battlefield. In the end it was a simple strategy for the Hamas moles to stick their heads out in the right place: the Gaza tunnels. Simple, but lethal.
According to Israel National, between Thursday night and early Friday morning “the IDF moved 160 aircraft and dropped 450 bombs with more than 80 tons of explosives, hitting 150 terrorist targets in 35 minutes. Hamas’ subway city was hit with enormous force, and the IDF collapsed the terrorist tunnel system, over the heads of terrorists hiding in the tunnels.”
It is not yet known exactly how many Hamas members were killed. Neither side presented the details of Israel’s grand deception or the fake land invasion, but it is presumed that many Hamas members were buried under the destroyed tunnels.
The reaction against the fake land invasion
According to the Daily Mail, in retaliation for the fake land invasion, “Hamas fired 220 rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities overnight, according to the Israel Defense Forces, to which were added three rockets fired from Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, although all of them missed their target.”
Israel clarified that it did not carry out any invasion, only shelling. However, so far it is keeping some 7,000 army reservists deployed. Experts believe that this is not enough to carry out an incursion into Gaza, but it is nevertheless a threat; which may still confuse Hamas leaders. The question is: will Israel do the ground invasion or not? Maybe not, but it sure has already won a battle on the ground just by underhandedly invoking it in a tweet.