Palestinian Joint Operations Room announces upcoming military maneuver

Palestinian militant groups that comprise most of the ‘Joint Operations Room’

Palestinian militant groups who comprise most of the Joint Operations Room (JOR) announced Wednesday they will be conducting a joint military exercise on Dec. 29.

The JOR – also known as the Common Room – is a grouping of Palestinian militant factions in Gaza that operate as a quasi-army against Israel.

Palestinian factions have been heavily promoting the event by publishing material detailing the militant groups involved in the exercise including the creation of a Telegram channel dedicated to the upcoming event.

According to Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, the military maneuver dubbed ‘Strong Supporter’ – which is taken from a verse in the Quran – is the first of its kind and is an effort to ready Palestinian militant groups against a potential military conflict against Israel.

“The maneuver comes within the framework of strengthening cooperation and joint action between the resistance factions, and the embodiment of its efforts to raise its combat readiness permanently and continuously,” al-Qassam Brigades stated on their website.

The upcoming drill is a first for Palestinian groups, however, the JOR has already fought several short lived conflicts against Israel in 2018 and 2019.

The last large-scale military exercise in Gaza was conducted by al-Qassam Brigades in 2018. The militant group heavily promoted the event by publishing videos of different military scenarios its fighters were training for.

In one example, al-Qassam fighters assaulted a mock Israeli Merkava IV battle tank and successfully captured the IDF soldiers operating it.

Additionally, in another exercise, explosions and anti-aircraft fire from an al-Qassam Brigades position unintentionally triggered Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system which launched multiple interceptor missiles against the airspace above Gaza.

The goal of the maneuver is to send a message of deterrence to Israel by projecting unity and military strength among the largest Palestinian factions in Gaza. How Israel will react to the message remains to be seen.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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