Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

The Israel-Hamas War: Operation Iron Sword
The Invasion Plan

(October 7, 2023 - Present)
By Mitchell Bard

According to the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le JourIran decided the next battle should occur inside Israel after Hamas’s “Sword of Jerusalem” operation in 2021. Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and Iranian military officials, including Ismail Qaani, commander of the Quds Brigades of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, met to discuss the possibility of infiltrating Jewish communities from LebanonGaza, or the West Bank.

L’Orient-Le Jour said that the two goals of the operation were to strengthen Hamas and PIJ’s control over Gaza and spotlight the weakness of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The terrorist groups hope to spark an uprising in the West Bank and free Palestinian prisoners. On a larger scale, they hoped Israel would be forced to lift the Gaza blockade and politically recognize Hamas.

In April 2021, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah met with Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri and Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhala and discussed an instance where a terrorist infiltrated Israel from Lebanon, which they saw as a test of Israel’s defenses. Subsequently, the paper says, “Hezbollah organized a full-scale, public military demonstration in the village of Aaramta in southern Lebanon, titled ‘We Will Cross,’ signaling its intention to change the current rules of engagement and shift the clashes to territories controlled by the Israeli state.”

During Operation Iron Sword, the IDF recovered documents in Khan Yunis indicating that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar believed Hezbollah had committed to launch a joint assault on Israel. One missive from Sinwar said, “We received a commitment that the axis will participate in the large liberation project due to the nature of the relationship we are working on.”

Various explanations have been offered for why Hezbollah did not attack on or around October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched its attack. One is that Hezbollah did not know the exact timing of the attack. A second is that before Hezbollah could act, Israel had transferred troops to the north to prevent a cross-border infiltration. A third is that Nasrallah did not want to risk the massive retaliation Israel had promised if it were attacked from Lebanon. Finally, the puppeteers in Tehran may have vetoed the idea to preserve Hezbollah’s strength and ensure it would be available to engage if Israel attacked Iran.

According to Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, Israel learned from the interrogation of captured terrorists that Hamas originally planned the attack for Passover. He did not know why the date was changed. Still, he speculated it might have been related to the negotiations between Iran and the United States to exchange hostages and release frozen Iranian funds.

Meanwhile, Hamas hoped to lull Israel into a false sense of security and believed it would keep the peace so long as Israel allowed Gazans entry permits to work in Israel and allowed Qatar to bring tens of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid. “Hamas used an unprecedented intelligence tactic to mislead Israel over the last months by giving a public impression that it was not willing to go into a fight or confrontation with Israel while preparing for this massive operation,” a source told Reuters.

The paper says the “Al-Aqsa Flood” plan was devised in a joint Hamas-Hezbollah-Iran military operations room in Beirut over several months. They launched a cyberattack on Israel’s ground and air defense systems, allowing paragliders and drones to evade detection. Ground forces would then breach the fence.

NBC obtained documents found on the bodies of Hamas terrorists indicating terrorists planned to target elementary schools and a youth center in the Kfar Sa’ad to “kill as many people as possible” and seize hostages.

Hamas also organized an attack from the sea to penetrate Ashkelon and move on to Kiryat Gat. Journalist Ilan Kfir writes in the book Gaza Division Conquered that Hamas had planned a second stage of its attack if the initial one succeeded. The intent was to stage a raid on Tel Aviv when it was crowded and carry out a massacre. He said it was a suicide mission because the terrorists did not expect to escape. The plan was thwarted by the influx of Israeli troops following the initial breach of the border.

The terrorists brought provisions with the expectation that they would occupy Israeli communities for several weeks. They were planning to continue the assault up to the border of the West Bank and link up with Hamas cells there. “They planned a second phase, including in major Israeli cities and military bases,” an Israeli official told the New York Times.

They were also heavily armed with at least 10,000 weapons, sufficient to equip an entire military brigade. Among the weapons were 1,500 AK-47s, sniper rifles and machine guns, 2,000 grenades, Strelashoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, thermobaric missiles, commando knives, and RPG missiles from Russia and North Korea. They also had explosive devices to breach walls, fences, and doors and planned to plant mines in the area.

When the terrorists crossed the border, they carried maps of the towns and military bases they had obtained from drones. They also had guides for destroying or disabling armored vehicles and tanks. Drones were used to destroy observation towers and remotely operated machine guns along the border fence.

“They were conning Israel on a strategic level, using handheld radios, land-wire networks in the tunnels and other comms that we couldn’t listen to, while using codes on the so-called open networks, which they knew we were listening to,” Eran Etzion, former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, told the New York Times. “They were creating an alternative reality.”

Though they had meticulously planned the decapitation of communications to prevent the army from reacting quickly, the expectation was still that they had only minutes to complete their missions. Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida admitted they had succeeded “more than we had planned.”

Table of Contents for Israel-Hamas War