Does Gaza’s Resistance Use Combat Sport Strategy Against Israel?

Al-Qassam Brigades fighters in Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Robert Inlakesh

Palestinian armed groups are known to have trained their soldiers in a variety of martial arts, in order to have them physically prepared to engage in hand-to-hand combat, but how influential have combat sports been on military strategy?

In the first speech that was delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, following the Hamas-led offensive of October 7, he stated that the resistance forces had not inflicted a “knockout blow”, but were instead “scoring points”. 

When we look at the approach of a small guerrilla army, facing a fully-fledged military machine that is backed by billions of dollars in high-tech equipment and some 300,000 combat-ready soldiers, it is clear that there cannot be a conventional fight. Instead, tactics that are learned by Palestinian Resistance fighters, who are trained in the art of Judo, must be utilized on the battlefield.

Using the Opponent’s Momentum

In Judo, a key foundational approach to fighting is rooted in the idea of balance and using the opponent’s weight and momentum against them. 

The concept is to be rooted to the ground, while provoking the attacker to launch an offensive move, then harnessing the power of their attack and allowing them to fall into a defensive trap that will neutralize the threat and may result in a takedown. 

If we analyze what the Palestinian Resistance has done in luring the Israelis into the Gaza Strip, a similar approach has been taken as is set out in the defensive art of judo, turning the opposition’s strength into their weakness. 

In all combat sports, it is well known that provoking anger in the opponent is a method of achieving victory, especially when dealing with an enemy that is more powerful than oneself. 

As a beginner in any combat sport, you are taught to keep your cool and to not be consumed by anger. Anyone that has ever competed in any martial art will have experienced the consequences of uncontrolled aggression, which results in recklessness and later fatigue, that an experienced opponent will easily manipulate and use to their advantage.

‘Rope a Dope’ Strategy

When Hezbollah leader, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, used his boxing references, mentioning point scoring. and that the Resistance forces had not scored a knockout blow, he explained the strategy that is being employed with great precision. 

The armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, had inflicted a serious wound on the Israelis with their October 7 offensive to win the beginning of the fight, but also to provoke the enemy to act based upon emotion and to fight the Resistance’s style of warfare. 

To give a famous comparison in boxing history, the Palestinian armed groups have drawn Israel into former heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali’s ‘Rope a dope’ strategy. 

The concept was developed first when Ali fought against George Foreman, up until that point it was thought that Foreman was simply too big and powerful for Mohammed Ali to beat him. 

Knowing this, Ali decided to do something that nobody expected, he covered up as best he could and decided to allow George Foreman to unload his powerful blows upon his gloves and body, while Ali lay back on the ropes and sought to tire out his physically advantaged foe. 

What Mohammed Ali also did, was to use the environment against his opponent. The fight took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa, which Ali had decided to arrive in early, in order to adapt to the environment, while then heavyweight champion, George Foreman, arrived close to the fight date. 

Nobody expected Ali to win the fight, yet, by drawing Foreman into his kind of fight, the man we now known as ‘The Greatest’ boxer of all time, managed to tire out his opponent so much that he gained the opportunity to strike when the time was right and to knock out his opposition.

Cloak of Invincibility has Fallen

It is important to understand that the Palestinian Resistance in Gaza has drawn the Israelis into their territory, making them fight on their own terms on the battlefield. 

To refer back to what Hezbollah’s Nasrallah said again, the Palestinian fighters are scoring points against the Israelis, using the well known guerilla warfare tactic of ‘hit and run’. 

It is perfectly clear that the Palestinian Resistance in Gaza, much like the Viet Cong (armed wing of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front) who fought the US military, do not possess the equipment necessary to fight a conventional war and so allow the enemy to come to them, waiting for the Israeli army to expose an opening, before striking when they don’t see it coming.

Israel threw its full weight into Gaza and the Palestinian Resistance is using their momentum against them. This caused the Israeli army to experience fatigue, as it was not ready to fight the style of fight that Hamas was hoping to draw them into. 

Like is usual when a fighter is injured in any combat sport, they will start to try and mock their opponent to show that no harm was caused, which everyone looking on can often see through, but this comes to no avail. 

The Israelis have been dragged into a brawl, they sacrificed all of their advantages by bombing Gaza with full force, but in the process have exposed every weakness.

If we want to compare Israel to a world champion fighter, their record was squeaky clean in the past, other than a points loss in 2006 (to Hezbollah), but has still been regarded as unbeatable in their arena. 

In this ongoing battle, the cloak of invincibility has fallen, and the weaker fighter is proving that intelligence, heart and preparation, will overcome even the toughest of challenges. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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1 Comment

  1. “Viet Cong (armed wing of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front)”😂
    Vietcong is the US derogatory name for the NLF, national liberation front, which didn’t have a military wing with a different name.

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