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Operation Swords of Iron

On 07 OCTOBER 2023, Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group based in the Gaza Strip, began a devastating and coordinated attack that shook southern and central Israel. The attack began at approximately 0630 (UTC+03) when Hamas launched a massive rocket barrage targeting civilian areas. Simultaneously, the terrorists initiated infiltration operations, breaching the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. This brazen assault led to violent confrontations with Israeli residents, law enforcement, and the Israel Defense Forces.
The consequences of this attack are ongoing. As of the most recent estimates, over 1,200 Israelis have lost their lives, and approximately 7,771 others have been wounded, marking one of the deadliest acts of terror in recent history. In addition to casualties, there were at least 242 hostages taken by the terror organization, 30 of whom were children. Since then, 114 hostages have been released, and 139 hostages are still in Hamas captivity. This shocking event has left a profound impact on the nation, with families mourning the loss of their loved ones and communities grappling with how to respond.
In response to these grave developments, the State of Israel officially declared war, the first time the state has done so since 1973. The military launched Operation Swords of Iron (Hebrew: מבצע חרבות ברזל). This military operation is aimed at countering the threat posed by the terrorist organization Hamas. It represents a decisive effort by Israel to safeguard the security and well-being of its citizens and to address the challenges posed by extremist elements in the region.
This page serves as a dedicated platform for comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of the situation. Our researchers and fellows provide insights, interviews, and live analysis of the unfolding events. We also offer access to previous articles on the topic, conference proceedings, and critical information about Hamas, the terror organization at the center of this crisis.
As the situation continues to evolve, we are committed to providing valuable and informed perspectives to help navigate through these challenging times.

The analysis discusses the strategic shift in the Middle East conflict, where Israel faces a multi-front war orchestrated by Iran through its regional proxies, highlighting the factors that could influence the expansion of the Gaza conflict into a wider regional war.

A preliminary analysis of the online far-right’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A preliminary analysis of the surprise terror attack by Hamas from Gaza against Israel on 07 October 2023.

This analysis focuses on the increased threats and calls for violence against Israelis and Jews globally, particularly in the context of the campaign in Gaza and Hamas’ actions.

A preliminary analysis reviewing the sophisticated media campaign deployed by Hamas prior to and throughout this ongoing conflict.

A preliminary analysis of the Anonymous Sudan pro-Islamic hacker group initiating a cryptocurrency donation campaign.

Mr. Shalom Ben Hanan

Chief Superintendant (Ret.) Baruch Goldman

Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak

Mr. Naftali Granot

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Zohar Dvir

Ms. Sigalit Maor-Hirsh

Dr. Eitan Azani

Ambassador Itzhak Levanon

The useful idiots on American campuses – opinion

The problem of modern antisemitism, will not go away as long as there is a large number of academics worldwide promoting anti-Israeli narratives and inciting hostility.

Israel Was Prepared for a Different War

The Israeli military’s focus on intelligence, air power and technology left it vulnerable to a low-tech ground assault.

Israel Must Destroy Hamas’s Tunnels

Demolishing the group’s infrastructure is more important than eliminating its leaders.

Twitter’s obligation during crisis and war – opinion

It is incumbent on Elon Musk to ensure that Twitter does not incentivize antisemitic viewpoints and conspiracy theories.

What is Hamas and what are its goals?

Hamas is a Palestinian hybrid terrorist organization founded in 1987. After the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas took control as the governing authority. Its primary goals include the establishment of an independent Islamic state, resistance against the Israeli state, and the promotion of Islamic rule in the region.

What is a "hybrid" terror organization?

A hybrid terror organization is a terror organization that is comprised of more than one “wing.” These wings each operate under the guidance of a central governing body. While each “wing” may be differentiated by the type of activities that it engages in (e.g., political wing, military wing, social-welfare wing), all of the individual sections are subordinate to the terrorist organization leadership and support the terror activities of the organization.
Examples of hybrid terror organizations are Hamas and Hezbollah.

How does Hamas differ from other Palestinian groups?

Hamas is distinct from other Palestinian groups like Fatah due to its Islamist ideology, social services network, and refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. This has led to Hamas’s continued attempts to destabilize the state and harm civilians.

Why does Hamas use rocket attacks against Israel?

Hamas employs rocket attacks as a means of resistance against the continued existence of the State of Israel. These attacks are often used to exert pressure on Israel, draw international attention, or seek concessions.

Is Hamas a terrorist organization?

Hamas is a terrorist organization. While the organization portray’s itself as having two separate wings, a military and political, the actions of the political wing are meant to support the activities of the military wing. As such, many states including Israel, the United States, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have designated it as a terrorist organization.
Unfortunately, many other states continue to only designate the military wing as a terrorist.

What are the implications of Hamas being labeled a terrorist organization by some countries?

The designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization by some countries restricts its ability to engage in international diplomacy and financial transactions. When some countries still do not fully designate the organization, it is able to continue operating and supporting its terror activities.

How does Hamas govern the Gaza Strip, and what is life like under its rule?

Hamas governs the Gaza Strip with its own institutions and enforces strict Islamic laws, creating a complex socio-political landscape. Life under its rule has been marked by significant challenges, including limited access to basic resources, economic hardships, and restrictions on personal freedoms. Armed groups within the territory also contribute to an environment of instability and insecurity. Gaza residents often struggle to access healthcare, education, and job opportunities, making life under Hamas governance particularly challenging.

What is Hezbollah and what are its goals?

Hezbollah, also known as the “Party of God,” is a Lebanese Shia Islamist militant and political organization.
Hezbollah was formulated in 1982 based on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s ideology spread in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
According to its ideology, Israel is the “Little Satan”, it has no right to exist and efforts need to be made to physically wipe it out. The US is the ” Great Satan”.

What is a "hybrid" terror organization?

A hybrid terror organization is a terror organization that is comprised of more than one “wing.” These wings each operate under the guidance of a central governing body. While each “wing” may be differentiated by the type of activities that it engages in (e.g., political wing, military wing, social-welfare wing), all of the individual sections are subordinate to the terrorist organization leadership and support the terror activities of the organization.
As for Hezbollah, its three wings (military-terrorist, social warfare wing, and political wing) operate synergistically, enabling Hezbollah to present an appearance of a legitimate and pragmatic Lebanese political party working to defend Lebanon.
Unlike other terrorist organizations, Hezbollah does not view itself as a separate unit, the contrary. On various occasions, its leaders clearly stated that Hezbollah is a hierarchical organization operating as a single entity under the leadership of the Shura Council, led by Hassan Nasrallah.

Is Hezbollah a terrorist organization?

Yes, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. Countries that designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization include Israel, the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, the EU, Bahrain, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), The Arab League, Argentina and others.
Unfortunately, some countries and organizations distinct between Hezbollah’s political-social wing and its military-terrorist wing and only designate the military wing as a terrorist entity.

What are the implications of Hezbollah being labeled a terrorist organization by some countries?

The failure to define the entire organization as a terrorist organization or its partial designation by certain countries plays into Hezbollah’s hands. Instead of restricting its ability to engage in international diplomacy and financial transactions, the organization continues operating its terror activities.

What is the role of Hezbollah in the Lebanese politics?

Hezbollah is part of the “March 8” Alliance, which has the majority of members of parliament and holds the most important portfolios in the Lebanese government.
Specifically, Hezbollah’s representation in the parliament is relatively small but has a massive influence on Lebanese politics due to the existence of its military wing, which poses a threat to those who oppose the organization.

Did the Hezbollah's involvement in Lebanese politics cause a decline in its illegal activity?

Absolutely not. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government but operates primarily outside the framework of the law, being involved in corruption on a particularly large scale compared to other actors in the Lebanese system. Also, Hezbollah is much involved in crime; Hezbollah operates an international network of drugs and crime.
Hezbollah has dragged Lebanon into violent turbulence, leading to the destruction of infrastructure, harming the Lebanese economy, and led the loss of human lives, contradicting the interests of the Lebanese government and the public.

What is the nature of the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah?

Hezbollah is the long arm of Iran. There is a reciprocal relationship between Iran and Hezbollah. On the one hand, Iran supports Hezbollah’s activities in the regional and international arena. On the other hand, Hezbollah works to advance Iran’s interests. Iran has increased its support for the organization over the years, providing financing, operational support, and more.

Is Hezbollah's activity focused only on Israel?

No, Hezbollah is a destabilizing actor in the local, regional, and international arena. Hezbollah operates a worldwide terrorist as well as social infrastructure. Not only does Hezbollah pose a physical threat by carrying out terrorist attacks, but it is also involved in arms trade, crime, terror finance, and more. Hezbollah’s social activities enable it to strengthen its ideological support and mobilize new members.
For example, the US Cassandra Operation against Hezbollah’s funding from illicit drug sources revealed a well-established infrastructure in Europe (Germany, Belgium, France, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Italy, the Czech Republic, the UK, and more).

What is in Hezbollah's arsenal?

It is estimated that Hezbollah has around 150,000 missiles, rockets, and mortars (short, mid, and long-range), including guided missiles. Hezbollah also owns different kinds of shore-to-ship missiles as well as anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. 

Hezbollah has hundreds of remotely controlled aircraft, varying from intelligence-gathering drones to attack aircraft. 

Hezbollah’s personnel is estimated in approx. 45,000 operatives. Its elite unit, the Radwan Force of approximately 2,500 operatives, has a primary mission to infiltrate Israeli territory to conquer the Galilee.

In the hours following the surprise attack, Hamas leaders highlighted the defense of the al-Aqsa Mosque as a primary reason for launching the operation. Mr. Shalom Ben Hanan, an ICT fellow and former Shin Bet official, argues that the purpose of this message is to recruit as many groups and actors as possible, including those that will develop spontaneously.

“What can unite all Arab communities, from those in Israel to those in Jerusalem and any other potential arena, is the narrative of defending al-Aqsa. This common denominator can, as was the case during Operation “Guardian of the Walls,” motivate thousands to engage in popular terror. It’s the catalyst that can activate additional individuals, such as those in the West Bank, coupled with the realization that they caught us off guard, and they should seize the momentum.

The capabilities Hamas demonstrated on 7 October 2023 suggest an Iranian fingerprint. This has been a known fact for years. Hamas’s power in the Gaza Strip is based on Iranian funding and means, and in recent years, it has only expanded, starting from rocket capabilities and ending with cyber means and everything in between.

Israel must now see itself in a multi-front campaign. There’s a high chance it’s heading there, and even if not, early preparation might prevent such trends. Israel now needs to create deterrence, as strange as it may sound, against other arenas.”

– Mr. Shalom Ben Hanan, an ICT fellow and former Shin Bet official

For the past four days, a brutal terrorist attack has been taking place in the State of Israel from the Gaza Strip, led by the terrorist organization Hamas. Many hundreds of terrorists penetrated the sovereignty of the State of Israel from land, sea, and air in an event the likes of which the State of Israel has not experienced since its founding. So far, hundreds have been killed, thousands injured, and a large number of abductees, including small children and the elderly.

Chief Superintendant (Ret.) Baruch Goldman, an ICT Fellow and former Commander of the Israeli Crisis Negotiation Unit, explained:

“In one of the fighting centers, four terrorists took two hostages (an adult couple) in a house in the city of Ofakim. A long and protracted negotiation took place there, at the end of which the building was taken over. The terrorists were neutralized, and the hostages were rescued. Several fighters were injured in this daring action.

The negotiations with the terrorists, which were conducted entirely in Arabic, in the Gaza dialect, and in a hostile environment, greatly helped to calm the situation and thus prevented possible harm to the hostages and, at the same time, created more favorable conditions for the rescue unit.

On the face of it, it appears that the initial goal of the terrorists was a murderous killing spree and not a negotiation attack, but in practice, they entered a residence and, as mentioned, held the hostages for many hours. The main demands of the terrorists revolved around procedural issues (food, drink, medicine, etc.) and not around nationalist issues.

This event emphasizes once again that hostage negotiation events “have not disappeared from the world,” and even if this is not the initial goal of the terrorists, it is possible that they will fall into it or choose to fall into it.

We must continue to develop the practice models and protocols of what is called in the professional parlance “classic negotiation,” which includes elements from the worlds of psychology, crisis management, decision making, and more.”

– Chief Superintendant (Ret.) Baruch Goldman, an ICT Fellow and former Commander of the Israeli Crisis Negotiation Unit

Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak, a senior researcher at the ICT, offered her insights on the most recent terror attacks on Israel, drawing comparisons and identifying how this most recent round of attacks is different:

“The invasion of Israel, the brutal murdering of innocent civilians in their homes, the kidnapping of hundreds of others, are of a scale that Israel has not encountered in decades. Since Israel disengaged from Gaza unilaterally in 2005, there have been no less than five large confrontations between Hamas and Israel (Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, Protective Edge, Guardian of the Walls, and now Swords of Iron) – yet this is by far the most organized, planned, and bloody one.

The combination of a ground, subterranean, and naval military invasion, with murderous assaults on civilians and soldiers alike points to a successful multi-domain operation that has been long in the making. Though Iran’s footprint can be felt in the coordinated and highly lethal assault (and a possible cyberattack), Hamas has brought to the operation the quintessential element of terror – by spreading terror among the civilian population, executing children in front of their siblings and parents, and carrying out kidnappings on a massive scale. By doing so, Hamas has violated countless fundamental norms of international law, including the prohibition against hostage-taking and the obligation to discriminate between civilians and combatants, both of which amount to war crimes.”


– Dr. Daphné Richemond-Barak, a Senior Researcher at the ICT and Lecturer at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, Reichman Unviersity

Mr. Naftali Garnot, an ICT fellow and a former Deputy Director of the Mossad, claims that there is no doubt that Israeli deterrence has suffered a severe blow in light of the successful surprise attack by Hamas and the collapse of the IDF’s defense concept on the settlements surrounding Gaza.

“There is a possibility that the anticipated extensive IDF attack aimed at eradicating Hamas, along with the high number of civilian casualties, might compel Hezbollah to take a more active role in the conflict. This could occur either proactively or through a series of days of battle, potentially escalating into a wider conflict.

At the same time, and in light of the difficult internal situation in Lebanon and perhaps precisely because of the impressive success of Hamas, in my estimation, Hezbollah has no interest in getting involved in an all-out war against Israel, and this is also because the element of surprise does not exist in light of the mobilization of the reserves and the wide alert announced in the north.

The results of the war in Gaza and especially the Israeli determination to overthrow Hamas rule will determine to a large extent whether Hezbollah will join the fighting.”

– Mr. Naftali Garnot, an ICT fellow and a former Deputy Director of the Mossad

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Zohar Dvir explains that in light of the surprise attack initiated by Hamas against Israel yesterday, there’s potential for escalation among Israeli Arabs, similar to the operation of “Guardian of the Walls.”

“The security system needs to be vigilant, prepare adequately, and aim to contain events at a local level with minimal casualties and prevent further escalation. We are facing a challenging period, but we can overcome it – we’ve survived the Holocaust, we endured the Yom Kippur War, and we will get through this current conflict.

Basic procedures will need to be rethought and security systems strengthened. Yesterday, the Israeli police faced severe attacks; police stations were overrun, and station commanders and their teams fought until they fell in battle. Many special forces and security personnel were killed in intense exchanges of fire.

It’s of utmost importance to distinguish as much as possible between the arenas, preventing extremist elements from capitalizing on their perceived success to continue or even intensify nationalist violent actions.”

– Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Zohar Dvir, ICT Fellow and Former Deputy Commissioner of the Israel National Police

Ms. Sigalit Maor-Hirsh, Former Head of Cyber Sub-division, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, shares her insights on the crucial aspect of social network influencers involved in influencing public opinion during the “Operation Swords Of Iron.”

“A preliminary analysis of the social networks of Palestinian influencers in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Israel, and internationally in the days since Hamas’ terrorist attack began on 07 October 2023 has uncovered several trends. First, influencers with large followings have been using their platforms to reach both Arab and international audiences, influencing public opinion related to the Israeli defensive operation, Operation Swords of Iron, which they refer to, using Hamas’ term for their terror attack, the “Al-Aqsa Flood.” These narratives make liberal use of verses from the Quran, attempting to strengthen the religious connection to Hamas’ attack. In addition to strengthening the relationship between religion and Hamas’ attack, many posts have also included encouragement, support, and justification. Another trend that has emerged is Hamas’ attempts to portray itself as a humanitarian army that does not harm women, children, or the elderly.

These narratives are being continually amplified through a global network of supporters and influences that cumulatively have hundreds of thousands of followers. Each of these posts is promoted in different ways across multiple platforms, using specific hashtags that also support the narrative and ideas. In addition to this interconnected network, the posts are also being promoted by platform-specific algorithms. The power of the algorithm is being expertly leveraged to increase the reach of these narratives in local Palestinian society, the regional Arab sphere, and the broader international sphere.

Another central narrative being promoted through these networks attempts to justify and support the actions of Hamas as a “resistance” movement. It appears that they are attempting to reinforce this narrative and draw support from international organizations, countries, and communities to turn against the State of Israel. As they promote this narrative, there is a danger that they will utilize disinformation.”

– Ms. Sigalit Maor-Hirsh, ICT Fellow and Former Head of Cyber Sub-division, the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel

Dr. Eitan Azani, Director of Research at the ICT, offers insights on the growing relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah and claims that the tightening connection of Hamas to the Iranian region and Hezbollah can, to one degree or another, attract or inspire an escalation in the northern area of Israel, potentially including Shiite militias in the Golan Heights.

“The question that arises is what will prevail over what. Iranian control over Nasrallah and the commitment to obey Iran. Or alternatively, the status of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the risk to its survival in the war against Israel.

It is very difficult to predict where it will go. There are two scenarios: it is possible that one side does not correctly assess the mindset and thinking of the other side (like Nasrallah after the Second Lebanon War), and the second scenario – a development at the field level that will cause an escalation and deterioration into a war. In this context, rockets being launched from the northern border do not necessarily indicate a deterioration into war or a ground invasion of Israel.

It is worth clarifying that Hamas’s ability to penetrate the State of Israel on four axes and the failure of the barriers are not equal to Hezbollah’s ability to attack and penetrate Israeli territory. It is expected to be carried out along the entire length of the border with dozens of break-ins, including the use of the underground tunnels.

However, Israel will not be surprised, as was the case of Hamas. The evacuation of settlements in the north and the mobilization of extensive reserves confirms that the State of Israel will not be surprised again. In this case, they will find the IDF more prepared than Hamas did.”

– Dr. Eitan Azani, Director of Research at the ICT

Ambassador Itzhak Levanon, an ICT Fellow and Former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, had this to say about the attack against Israeli tourists in Egypt:

“This is not the first time that Egyptian security personnel, whether army or police, have killed Israelis. Not long ago, an Egyptian soldier fatally shot two of our soldiers on the border with Egypt. This doesn’t mean that there’s an Egyptian policy to kill Israelis. This worrying phenomenon stems from the following reasons: the inability of the Egyptian security system to supervise, monitor, or prevent the actions of an individual. The second reason is that soldiers and police officers are paid so little that they are exposed to negative influences, and from there, the readiness for violent action is short.

Regarding the operation in Gaza. There’s no doubt that Hamas’s painful surprise against Israel on Saturday and Simchat Torah will remain etched in the collective memory. The scale of the attack is unprecedented. Its brutality has never been known in Israel, and the number of casualties is staggering. The shock is so profound that the public’s demand to change the reality and strike Hamas until its destruction is understandable.

This demand has limitations. The first is the terrorists who continue to roam in several towns in the Gaza envelope. The second is the Israeli captives held by Hamas and Jihad. These two factors slow down the implementation of the Israeli response against Hamas. As a result, time passes, and we lose the element of surprise. But it also puts us in a not-so-simple dilemma. During World War II, England and other allies were less considerate of their captives, who fell into the hands of the Nazis. Their primary goal was to defeat Nazi Germany. What Israel will do is hard to predict. One thing is clear. Our enemies are terrorists with an extremist ideology whose goal is to annihilate Israel. This is their raison d’être. We must fight them with their tools. If we want to win, we must fight to the bitter end.”

– Ambassador Itzhak Levanon, an ICT Fellow and Former Israeli Ambassador to Egypt