Op Shield & Arrow in May 2023


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Update 1 of 4: Shield & Arrow

1. On 9 May 2023, the IDF has launched Operation Shield and Arrow, targeting 3 senior members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), in the Gaza with multiple sites belonging to PIJ hit by the 40 aircraft involved in the opening strikes, which lasted for about two hours starting at 2am local time.
(a) Beyond the 3 senior PIJ members killed, IDF helicopters and fighter jets targeted weapon manufacturing sites, including rocket production workshops in Khan Yunis. In addition, fighter jets targeted a site used for manufacturing concrete for building terrorist tunnels. Furthermore, 6 military compounds belonging to the PIJ were targeted, most of them were used as weapon warehouses and logistic infrastructures belonging to the terrorist organization.​
(b) The Palestinian health ministry reported 13 deaths, including that of three commanders, their wives, several children and collateral casualties. I wait for an armed response by PIJ. The main concern of the IDF are rockets, mortars, anti-tank guided missiles, drones, sniper fire, and to a certain extent anti-aircraft missile fire from Gaza, which are the military capabilities PIJ possesses.​

2. Operation Shield and Arrow was planned after PIJ launched 102 rockets at Israel last week, but was postponed for technical reasons.

(a) PM Netanyahu and Defence Minister Gallant made the call without a Security Cabinet meeting. Abu Hamza, PIJ spokesman: "The Al-Quds Brigades and the resistance affirms we will abide by our commitment and duty toward the martyrs, and will confront the aggression with steadfastness and courage."​
(b) A source authorized to speak for the Israeli government did not mention Hamas even though these statements often say Hamas is responsible for what happens in Gaza. This can be a sign that Israel wants to keep the operation focused, not escalate or broaden it.​

3. The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was established the protect the universal rights and liberties.
(a) Unfortunately, despite this honorable mission, the UNHRC has a long legacy of disproportionate focus on Israel through its standing Agenda Item 7, thus implying Palestinians can only be associated to human rights abuses, itself racist toward Palestinians.​
(b) While obsessively focusing on Israel, the UNHRC, in its debates, reports and resolutions, systematically ignores or downplays violations perpetrated by the Hamas against Israeli civilians.​
(c) The sad reality is that some of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights abuses sit as judges and jury at the UNHRC, granting impunity for most of the world’s worst regimes on matters of human rights, such as, China, the Russian Federation, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Mali, Pakistan (as sanctuary for the Taliban, when they were in exile from Afghanistan for 20 years), Qatar (as major supporter of Hamas), Saudi Arabia (as leader of the GCC), and Vietnam, or regimes in Muslim ruled countries that are openly hostile and pro-Palestinian, like Malaysia and Kuwait.​

4. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement that “assassinating the leadership in a treacherous operation will not bring security to the occupier, but instead greater resistance”. Unclear if Hamas will join in rocket attacks with the PIJ on Israeli civilians at this time. If Hamas joins, the follow on IDF bombing campaign planned will be more extensive.

5. Qatari funded, mostly pro-Palestinian propaganda agency Al Jazeera quoting PIJ officials said, “the amount of attention given to the threats of the resistance amuses us. The retaliation will come and despite the illusions of the occupation — it will be unified with all the resistance factions.”
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Update 2 of 4: Shield & Arrow

6. Evidently, PIJ tried to strike back near Khan Yunis but the 2 member anti-tank guided team (ATGM Team), travelling in a car, was killed in action.

7. IDF Arabic spokesperson says the 2 man ATGM team targeted earlier near Khan Yunis belonged to PIJ. Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar also added Israel foiled a PIJ cell in the Jenin area that planned to launch rockets from the West Bank, under directives of Tareq Izz ed-Din, who was killed early this morning. "We have no intention of putting Afula within firing range," said Ronen Bar.
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Update 3 of 4: Shield & Arrow

8. PIJ have started their full scale rocket attacks after a long pause to regroup, after having 3 of their leaders killed. In some cases, IDF in has identified movement of PIJ members near rocket launching sites, and therefore launched the strikes.

9. May those Palestinians who seek peace but find themselves living under Hamas and PIJ, stay safe. Meanwhile:

(a) Iron Dome has started to intercept those rockets fired from sites on the West Bank that IDF did not hit. Israel is facing a barrage of 270 rockets and mortars, with factions, like PIJ, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine & others, in Gaza firing on Tel Aviv and other places, with explosions heard in South Tel Aviv. Thus far, no injuries reported in the latest rocket barrages from Gaza.​
(b) "I am proud to be an Iron Dome combatant, knowing that in my job I deal 100% with protecting Israel’s citizens. When I was a child I experienced many sirens and operations, and suddenly being here, and experiencing these things in real time changes all the feelings and emotions. It strengthens the sense of belonging and the desire to continue contributing and protecting," said Private Maayan, a combatant operating the Iron Dome weapon system.​
(c) As at 4pm, Palestinians have launched 270 rockets and mortars from Gaza. 205 crossed border, 65 fell short, 62 intercepted by Iron Dome, 3 impacted urban areas. With 53 sites in Gaza struck, it is no wonder that Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 17 dead, 37 wounded since the IDF launched its operation.​

10. IDF officials are briefing Hebrew media to say at this time, Hamas is not involved in the rocket fire from Gaza — which explains the slightly lower number of rockets fired, per day. Statements published by some Palestinian militants organizations in Gaza are attempting to present a unified front against Israel. However, there are no clear indications from Hamas that it is actively participating. Current round of IDF airstrikes targeting PIJ members in Gaza are meant to restore deterrence that has eroded since the last significant Gaza operation.
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Update 4 of 4: Shield & Arrow

11. BBC reports that a commander of PIJ, Ali Hassan Ghali (also known as Abu Muhammad) was killed in a targeted strike on the 5th floor of a building in Hamad Residential City, near Khan Younis. Ghali was a central figure in PIJ, as well as responsible for the recent rocket barrages launched against Israel.

12. The Germans have “strongly condemn the massive rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. There is no justification whatsoever for these indiscriminate attacks & they must stop immediately. There are already too many innocent victims to mourn this year. The people of Israel and Gaza have the right to live in peace and without fear.” Meanwhile, militants in Gaza fired more than 460 rockets at Israel, while the IDF hit more than 130 targets.

Q: Why is the IDF bombing PIJ sites in Gaza?

Ans: IMO, part of the reason why Israel is targeting the Iranian supported PIJ, but not Hamas, is because Iran has instructed PIJ to stir trouble in the West Bank to deflect attention away from Tehran (see the above Iran proxy video) and keep Israel busy. In this round, the IDF is not fighting all of Gaza; rather it is fighting a proxy of Iran in Gaza, called the PIJ — who has been knifing, shooting & car ramming Israeli non-combatants on behalf of Iran.

In 2022, the IDF began Operation Breaking Dawn by eliminating Islamic Jihad commander Taysir al-Jaabari. The following day, Islamic Jihad commander Khaled Mansour was killed in a targeted strike. I suspect that in Operation Shield and Arrow, the IDF in 2023 is again targeting PIJ leadership that is acting on behalf of Iran. Tariq Izzeldin, Jihad Ghanam, Khalil Bahtini and tonight, Ali Ghali have been eliminated.
13. Not only is PIJ much smaller than Hamas, in the longer run it is a rival to Hamas, if allowed to grow further, with Iranian funding. There are tensions between militants. IIRC, Hamas had in the past accused PIJ of spreading Shiism in Sunni Gaza.

14. Last evening, there was an Egyptian state-run television channel that says Egypt has brokered an "immediate" cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants. This is not likely to be the case for the next 3 to 5 days as there was no immediate confirmation from Israel or PIJ, the militant group involved in the latest fighting. In fact, the militants have released more video of PIJ preparing rockets for launch.

15. The only thing in common between Hamas and PIJ is that both want to see Israel annihilated. Hamas is:
(a) the government in Gaza; and​
(b) nominally allied with Iran, but its main sponsors are Qatar and Turkey.​
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Post 1 of 3: Mismatch between propaganda & reality

1. From the number of rockets launched in 72 hours, looks like Hamas is not in the fight. Currently, 8 armed groups in Gaza claim to be launching rockets at Israel, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In 2021, 20 armed groups including Hamas averaged 430 rockets fired per day over 10 days, according to Joe Truzman.

2. In 2023, PIJ is the biggest militant group fighting the IDF. Their propaganda looks great but sustained capability to fire rockets is just not there — with only 866 fired in 3 days — with losses of PIJ rocket teams caught in action by air strikes with 215 PIJ sites struck.
(a) More importantly, the PIJ have killed more Palestinians in Gaza than Israelis in 2023 (see point 4 below).​
(b) IRGC commanders have publicly said that their priorities are to improve their allies’ ability to operate Iranian-delivered rockets.​
(c) The PIJ rocket teams are very sophisticated — they fire large salvos of 107mm or 122mm rockets interspersed with larger Fajr 3 & Fajr 5 rockets.​
3. With 866 rockets fired, the militants killed 1 Israeli civilian and wounded 5. On the other side of the score card, Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 30 dead, 93 wounded since the IDF launched its operation against Islamic Jihad. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Joint Operations Room says it will continue firing rockets towards Israel. These is a slight mismatch between propaganda and reality.

4. There are plenty of idiots on Twitter every time there is an escalation in Gaza. They can hate Israel but cannot accept that Iron Dome is really quite effective at intercepting targets: ~86% to 96%. Iron Dome only intercepts rockets projected to land in urban areas. The majority of rockets land in open rural areas and so won’t be intercepted. Additionally around 160 of the rockets fired in Gaza reportedly landed short in Gaza.
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From the number of rockets launched in 72 hours, looks like Hamas is not in the fight. Currently, 8 armed groups in Gaza claim to be launching rockets at Israel, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In 2021, 20 armed groups including Hamas averaged 430 rockets fired per day over 10 days, according to Joe Truzman.
This will almost certainly prove a fatal mistake for Israel. Going exclusively after the PIJ allows Hamas to conveniently set a new paradigm by which they can employ the PIJ as a proxy and fight full wars with Israel without being threatened.

Amazing thermal footage of Iron Dome interception process. Missiles are launched before a full firing solution is determined, to which they adjust after a few seconds of flight. Some missiles even make several adjustments. The breakneck speed at which they maneuver is unreal.
The second part of the video shows failed PIJ rocket launches, exhibiting just how common those are.

David's Sling scores first ever kill, defeating an M-302 rocket headed toward Tel Aviv.
The M-302 is a rocket prevalent among Iranian proxies, and has a long range of 90-200km and a warhead between 125-170kg.
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Post 2 of 3: Mismatch between propaganda & reality

5. In the 6th confirmed killing of a top PIJ leader, Iyad al-Hassani, the acting head of the group's military council has been taken out. Iyad al-Hassani had replaced Khalil Bahtini who was killed, was himself killed. Short lived promotion.

Q: Why doesn't Israel arrest PIJ militants instead of assassinating them?

Answer: If anyone has worked or visited a coalition brigade or division operations centre guiding air and ground units, to maintain a tracking board of the enemy actions and ISR assets, you would understand how difficult it is for the IDF to specifically attack the PIJ (who are proficient in using human shields). While IDF minimisation of collateral damage is a goal, it is impossible to avoid civilian casualties in any urban war.

(a) President George W. Bush endorsed Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan and on 12 Sept 2005, the last Israeli soldiers leave Gaza, ending 38 years of Israeli occupation. Thousands of Palestinians rushed into the area that used to be the Jewish settlements in Gaza, and burned the abandoned synagogues in the area to erase any signs of Judaism.

(b) In Jan 2006, Hamas had won 74 of the 132 seats and they rule the Gaza Strip. Under Hamas rule in the Gaza strip (that advocates for the destruction of the Jewish state), PIJ as a proxy of Iran, has continued to attack Israel.

(c) Beginning 10 May 2021, Hamas launched an 11 day rocket attack that targeted Israeli cities, towns and villages, in which 12 civilians and one IDF soldier were killed. Approximately 4,500 rockets were launched from Gaza, targeting Israeli civilian facilities in cities, towns and villages. Major cities were also targeted, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

(d) In recent memory, Israel has conducted 4 major operations to restore deterrence of in Gaza, as follows:
  • Operations Summer Rains and Autumn Clouds (Jun–Nov 2006)
  • Operation Cast Lead (Dec 2008–Jan 2009)
  • Operation Pillar of Defense (Nov 2012)
  • Operation Protective Edge (July–August 2014).
(e) During the longer, steady-state periods of small-scale conflict between these major operations, Israel has conducted “flexible response” operations: limited, tailored retaliatory attacks to punish intermittent attacks on Israel.

(f) Driven by its many adversaries and perpetually hostile environment, Israel has developed a policy, strategy, and culture of deterrence as a strategic necessity. Since achieving statehood in 1948, deterrence has stood as a pillar of Israel’s national defense strategy. Given that Israel has no direct access to Gaza, short of a ground war, the IDF can only target PIJ leaders and its underground terrorist infrastructure often co-located near civilians, through both ISR and HUMINT.

(g) Baha Abu al-Atta, Khaled Mansour and Iyad al-Hassani are 3 Islamic Jihad commanders killed in 2019, 2022 and on 13 May 2023, respectively.

(h) The IDF knows and is also able to kill Ayeed Alhuseni. Alhuseni replaced Khalil Bahitini, who was targeted during the first day of operation Shield and Arrow, as the organization’s commanding officer of the operation in the Gaza Strip. The precision used to kill Baha Abu al-Atta, Khaled Mansour, Iyad al-Hassani and Alhuseni is incredible, as they were significant figures in leading the operational activity and military decision-making of the PIJ terrorist organization.
6. IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari tells reporters there will likely be more long-range rocket fire after the latest targeted killing in the Gaza Strip. There is widespread publication on pro-Palestinian propaganda channels & social media calling for Palestinians in the Gaza strip to “go at 9 PM [on 13 May 2023] to the roofs your homes to watch the night sky for rocket fire from the strip…”

7. As Trey reports on the ground (literally), ceasefire talks have collapsed. I continue to stand in solidarity with civilians caught in the fighting on both sides of the border. Please stop, people are dying. Meanwhile, IDF Home Front Command has canceled a Backstreet Boys concert on 13 May 2023 (Sat) in Rishon LeZion, over fears of rocket attacks.
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Post 3 of 3: Mismatch between propaganda & reality

8. In the ensuing 5 days of fighting, Israeli forces killed 7 PIJ leaders and around 15 other terrorist operatives. Israeli forces also destroyed military infrastructure and rocket silos in Gaza.
(a) An Egyptian official says Israel has refused including either demand as part of the ceasefire agreement. “[Israel is] only willing to cease firing if the other side does too. No strings attached,” the official says. If the terms of the ceasefire are correct, it appears PIJ did not get the concessions it reportedly wanted during the initial cessation of hostility talks. The terms PIJ wanted being the return of Khader Adnan's body and Israel pledging to halt targeted killing operations.​
(b) FDD reported that Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a speech that, prior to the fighting, PIJ in Gaza had 6,000 rockets in its arsenal while the ruling Hamas terrorist group had four times that. Islamic Jihad, supported by approximately eight organizations coordinated by the Palestinian Joint Operations Room, fired some 1,200 rockets at Israel as of 13 May 2023.​

9. Cease fire was supposed to start on 13 May 2023 at 10 pm based on this statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office: "National Security Council (NSC) Director Tzachi Hanegbi, on instruction from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and expressed the appreciation of the State of Israel for Egypt's intensive efforts to secure a ceasefire. The NSC Director made it clear that Israel's acceptance of the Egyptian initiative means that 'quiet will be met with quiet', and that if Israel is attacked or threatened, it will continue to do everything that it needs to in order to defend itself."

10. For those who are new to this sort of cease fires — the militants will try to go for one last round just before or after the dateline. As expected incoming rocket sirens started sounding in Kissufum at 10.07pm and other Gaza border towns, by 11.12 pm. In response to the rocket fire from the Gaza strip, the Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked suspected rocket launchers of the terrorist organization in the Gaza strip a short time ago. As a result of this fighting, 1,468 rockets were launched, along with:
(a) Reports of an airstrike east of Rafah in southern Gaza.​
(b) An observation post in Shuja'iyya and Beit Hanoun were targeted.​
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