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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Joint Headquarters of the Palestinian Terrorist Organizations in Gaza Reopened

Filed under: Israeli Security, Palestinians

The Joint Headquarters of the Palestinian Terrorist Organizations in Gaza Reopened
The member organizations of the Palestinian Joint Command. (Joe Truzman, FDD’s Long War Journal, 2020)

During “Operation Shield and Arrow,” the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip activated their joint military command room again, which directed and coordinated the terrorist attacks on Israeli cities.

This war room is considered the joint headquarters of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip; its activities are dangerous, and it has become a significant target for the IDF.

The military activity of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, especially the firing of rockets at Israel in times of crisis, is managed from a joint headquarters of all the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, which coordinates the firing at Israel.

This war room was established in its current form in 2018, and it includes the military arms of 12 different Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

Senior officials in the Israeli security establishment say that this is the central headquarters of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

The primary purpose of establishing this body was to demonstrate national unity during an emergency, to cover up the differences of opinion between Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to determine the nature of the response, and to carry out coordinated attacks against Israel with the agreement of all factions.

A press conference from members of the joint Gaza Command
A press conference from members of the joint Gaza Command. Note the different headbands from different groups. (Hamas press release, 2018)

The joint war room is trying to upgrade its activity. In the last three years, it has carried out exercises emphasizing coordination between the various factions’ military wings. Its first serious test was in May 2021 against the IDF’s operation against the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip after they attacked Jerusalem with rockets.

The other goal of this joint war room is to deter Israel and formulate a deterrence policy according to developments on the ground.

In December 2022, the Palestinian factions, at the initiative of the joint war room, held a joint military exercise. The scenario was the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers from a Givati Brigade army post on the border of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas officials say that during “Operation Shield and Arrow,” Hamas had a representative in the joint war room even though the movement ostensibly sat on the fence and did not participate in the fighting against Israel.

During the operation, the joint war room established a new tactic as part of the psychological warfare against Israel: the retaliatory and immediate barrages of rockets after the assassinations of the senior members of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing – which had always been a Pavlovian retaliation – only came after 36 hours in an attempt to leave the IDF and the Israeli home front in a state of alert and uncertainty.

The goal of the joint war room operation is also to try and disrupt the activity of Israel’s air defenses, the Iron Dome and David’s Sling systems, and to discover weaknesses to penetrate and hit civilian targets.

During “Operation Shield and Arrow,” the terrorist organizations launched about 1,500 rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel.

One of the strategies formulated by the Joint war room during “Operation Shield and Arrow” was to switch to a war of attrition and not allow Israel to end the round of fighting quickly. Therefore, the round of fighting between the IDF and the Islamic Jihad was prolonged and lasted for five days. Only after heavy pressure from Egypt and Qatar, the Islamic Jihad agreed to the ceasefire.

Israel must take into account that in the next round of fighting, the Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip will resort to a strategy of a war of attrition in an attempt to morally and economically harm Israel and paralyze the lives of its citizens in large parts of the country.

The media activity of the joint war room, which publishes messages every few hours in emergency situations, is intended to increase the trust of the residents of the Gaza Strip in the military activities of the Palestinian factions and to give them the feeling that the joint war room can provide them with a sense of security. The joint command would also coordinate military support for the Gaza Strip by launching rockets toward Israel from other fronts, such as southern Lebanon or southern Syria.

According to the Palestinians, the joint war room also worked with the various mediators to negotiate a ceasefire or an attempt to prevent the “Flag Parade” on Jerusalem Day from marching through the Muslim neighborhoods in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Hamas officials say that the joint command room seeks to keep the Palestinian problem at the top of the world’s priority list despite the international community’s intense preoccupation with the war in Ukraine.

Senior security officials in Israel insist that the Palestinian terrorist organizations’ joint war room is a legitimate target for the IDF to strike in any military conflict against Hamas or the Islamic Jihad. It is a central headquarters that operates the terror campaign against Israel from the Gaza Strip.