Lessons from the Hamas Strike
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 31 Oct , 2023

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has taken the world by storm, and raised questions on what is our own preparedness in the face of terror attacks. Are we well prepared to face such surprise attacks from the terrorists across borders? India has been facing terrorist attacks for decades and has been successful nullifying most of these. Some complacency seems to have set in the minds some of our politicians that Hamas type of attack will not take place in India as our social harmony is our biggest asset. However, India has to remain prepared to face the surprise terrorist attacks by making our intelligence full spectrum and unwaveringly focussed. There is need to cater for equipping defence forces with the highly sophisticated modern weapons and equipment to demolish rockets and missiles that are used by the terrorist organisations like Hamas, Hezbollah, Taliban, ISIS and so on.The Indian Army is closely observing the ongoing Israel-Hamas war to draw relevant lessons in order to enhance India’s defence.

Hamas attack on Israel on 07 October exposed a complete failure of Israeli intelligence as also a total system failure.A careful campaign of deception ensured Israel was caught off guard when the Hamas launched its devastating attack, enabling a force using bulldozers, hang gliders and motorbikes to take on the Middle East’s most powerful army.They used unsophisticated weapons to overrun border security with drones, cranes, and bombs, and they travelled to inflict violence and take hostages on paragliders, motorcycles, and golf carts. 

How were the Hamas able to get the weapons, train manpower, prepare and organise themselves and moreover carry out this attack, the terror spectacle of which was played out in real-time? Sources claim that their training and sophisticated weapons were supplied by Iran secretly for a long time through Lebanon.

The Gaza border reportedly has ground based seismic sensors, cameras and thermal imaging devices deployed to detect movement and is patrolled regularly and this is backed by quick reaction teams who can then arrive at the point within minutes. But all failed.

Israel concedes it was caught off guard by an attack timed to coincide with the Jewish Sabbath and a religious holiday when the Israelis had gathered for a festive night of electronic music in celebration where about 3000 attendees were under the influence of liquor or drugs, which heightened their confusion and fear.Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli towns, killing 1400 Israelis and abducting 220 hostages. The Israeli army completely failed as a quick-reaction force and some of the communities that came under attack had to rely on their own civilian protection forces while they waited for the military to arrive.

Director General National Security Guard (NSG) M.A. Ganapathy said that in the wake of the terror attack in Israel, India needs to have a crisis management response framework at the national level on extreme terrorist scenarios. He said despite the technological advancements, it is the man and weapon which make the final difference.Over dependence on technology can be disastrous.The chief of the elite counter-terror and counter-hijack force said that scale and proportion of the unprecedented terror attack in Israel would never have been envisaged as the terrorists could get under the radar of extremely sophisticated technological infrastructure and perpetrated the ghastly act.

The operations by Hamas provide important lessons to India and other countries dealing with terrorism. The lessons that India should adhere to thwart terrorists surprise attacks are firstly, the intelligence needs to be made fool proof and no stone unturned for its failure.Half of the battle is lost if there is an intelligence failure.

Secondly, groups thought to be associated with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran have been active for years, running operations ranging from cyber espionage and data theft to hack-and-leak operations, as well as the targeting of industrial control facilities. India defence forces have to be well equipped with cyber warfare technology to nullify cyber-attacks from the terrorists. The Defence Cyber Agency (DCyA) is a tri-service command of the Indian Armed Forces. The agency is tasked with handling cyber security threats. The DCyA draws personnel from all three branches of the Armed Forces. The cyber security at the lower levels still needs to be strengthened.

Thirdly, the Indian defence forces has to be doubly alert during Indian holidays like Diwali, New Year, Christmas, Baisakhi, Gurpurabs, Onam, Pongal and so onas the terrorists are always on the lookout to attack during these festivals as it happened on Jewish festival In Israel.

Fourthly, the defence forces have to be equipped with Israel type of Rafael Advanced Defence Systems-Iron Beam, which is a laser weapon system designed to defend the country from incoming missiles. The Iron Beam, or light shield, is a directed-energy weapon. It’s designed to destroy short-range projectiles too close for the Iron Dome to intercept.Israel’s Iron Dome is a mobile air defence system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 4 to 70 km away. The system is all-weather and has a high success rate, intercepting over 90% of the rockets it targets.India may also require a number of Iron Domes along the borders to thwart effectiveness of terrorists rockets and missiles. 

Fifthly, Indian Infantry battalions are required to be well trained in the close quarter battle (CQB) drills especially tunnel warfare which Hamas used extensively with success.

Sixthly the Indian armed forces are well trained in improvisations, colloquially called “Jugaads”, during emergencies but Hamas “Jugaads” of using hand gliders, bulldozers, golf carts and motorbikes proved successful initially.

Seventhly, the ability of the security agencies and forces must focus on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation and not get sucked into the vortex of internal all-consuming internal issues. Opposition parties must support the ruling party during emergencies rather than criticising for getting cheap popularity.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Col (Dr) PK Vasudeva

is author of World Trade Organisation: Implications for Indian Economy, Pearson Education and also a former Professor International Trade.

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