Era of nonstate armed groups


Israel’s full-fledged genocide and ethnic cleansing have been continuing since Hamas’ surprise attack on Oct. 7. The ongoing conflict in Gaza has an asymmetric nature as an armed group with scarce weapons counters an army with advanced weapons, including nuclear bombs. Logic says that the stronger side can easily defeat the weaker one on the battlefield, but Hamas’ (and many other armed groups’) combat capabilities show that it is no longer the case. Actually, vanquishing a smaller group fighting guerilla warfare was still difficult in the past but is costlier in the 21st century.

It is because nonstate armed groups have transformed themselves and adapted to new combat technology. First of all, a freedom fighting group like Hamas or a proxy like Hezbollah can gather thousands of militants and find mortal weapons in the market. Besides, they can locally produce military equipment at cheaper prices and destroy millions of dollars worth of tanks, other armored vehicles and even aircraft. In addition, traditionally, they can mobilize faster and hide under the ground, in mountains or in the rubble.

On the other hand, regular armies are too big to hide and mobilize. Even wearing a single type of fashion is a disadvantage on the battlefield. Therefore, the number of soldiers, the size of weapons, and their abundance make an army more vulnerable to contemporary guerilla attacks. What is more, rich resources meltdown quickly since today’s asymmetric wars last longer, sometimes for decades. Also, contrary to state armies, the weaker armed group has fewer resources to lose.

Meanwhile, for an armed group, being the weaker side means that they fight for their existence. Defeat for them means mass murder, expulsion and occupation. Since war is the only choice to get their freedom, they must fight and bear great losses. Specifically for Palestine, this is why Hamas came into being, resisted, attacked and did not surrender.

Hamas: Only way for Palestinian freedom

Some may disagree, but the only way for Palestine to gain its freedom is through Hamas’ contemporary guerilla warfare. Despite being deprived of obtaining materials for weapons production in a besieged city, the group could resist Israel’s occupation. Suppose the Israeli army withdraws from areas it occupied after Oct. 7. In that case, it will be an amazing victory for Hamas and probably further discourage Israel from reoccupying Gaza in the future.

Moreover, in a military context, Hamas’ resistance reveals how multiple armed groups can harm a regular army if they fight together. In Hamas’ case, the group is unlucky in that it fights alone and on a single front, namely Gaza. Whereas, if other Palestinian groups, e.g., those in the West Bank, had shown the same resistance, perhaps there would be no illegal settlements in other parts of Palestine. Time has shown that passive resistance to Israel or living in peace with it, which does not want peace, does not work. If desires for peace are not reciprocal, the stronger side always violates a peaceful environment and indeed, Israel abused the Palestinian side’s goodwill.

In fact, a group like Hezbollah’s involvement in the Palestine-Israel conflict would also prove how strong armies can be forced to make peace. Hamas has been fighting against the Israeli army for the last three months. Despite the lack of even ordinary weapons, it could stop the enemy’s advancement and even expel it. Since Netanyahu needs a clear victory to keep power, he continues to fight, but the Israeli economy may soon collapse.

If Hezbollah joins the war and further strikes Israel, the latter’s economy may be further damaged, not to mention more casualties on the battlefield. Therefore, Hezbollah missed a great opportunity to stop Israel’s atrocities, perhaps permanently. The Iranian proxy still hesitates to confront Israel, wrongly thinking that its losses will reach an unbearable level. It is wrong because the other side is not in a position to stand a more protracted war due to casualties and its plunging economy. So, it missed the chance to deter Israel as well as prove how armed groups can humiliate a strong army.

Source: Daily Sabah

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