GroundBrief

Gaza's Kushuk Unit

Author: Joe Truzman

Location: Gaza Border

It has been 30 Fridays in a row that we’ve witnessed violence at the security fence that separates Gaza and Israel. What began as peaceful demonstrations quickly escalated into clashes between Palestinians and Israel Defense Forces. Incendiary balloons with explosives , IEDs and infiltrations into Israel have become common practice at the security fence along the border.


The who, what and why:

Amid the constant clashes at the border, a Palestinian group was formed referring to themselves as “Kushuk Unit” which translates into “Tire Unit.” This group is made up of young men whose tactics include delivering tires to the border to light on fire, removal of barbed wire at the security fence, throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, and grenades.

At first glance, the Kushuk Unit appears to be made up of ordinary Palestinian citizens fighting the IDF. However, a detailed look into their members revealed a structured command made up of militants and associates belonging to various factions in the Gaza Strip. There is a leader, commanders and footsoldiers who operate together as a unified group to achieve a specific goal.


High command: Secretary General Mustafa Mousa Zakout

The leader of the Kushuk unit is Secretary General Mustafa Mousa Zaqout. He is the leader of Abd Al-Qader Husseini Brigades , a militant group in Gaza affiliated with Fatah. Multiple members of the Kushuk Unit and it’s commanders have stated he is their leader. He also attended demonstrations at the border with members of the Kushuk Unit.


Commanders:

Under his direction, there are three Palestinians who form the command of the Kushuk Unit from the city of Rafah. They have participated in violence at the border since the start of demonstrations. All three have been injured by IDF gunfire. They often record videos for their followers encouraging attendance and participation.


Commander Nashed Mohareb:

A member of the military wing of Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Notably the most militant of the three, his primary role is to lead, participate and execute operations at the security fence.


Commander Musab Al-Abudi’a:

Abudi’a is the most recognizable and a sort of famous figure in Gaza society for his activities at the border. He’s been featured on several television news programs including Al-Jazeera. He’s become a symbol of the “March of Return” demonstrations. Like his comrades, his activities at the border are to direct and participate.


Commander Ibrahim Al-Najjar (Abu Yousef):

His role is very similar to the other two members; he is usually seen transporting the unit to the border and also participates in clashes against IDF soldiers. Another detail to Najjar’s role; his membership in Hamas’ Military Police.


Footsoldiers:

Form the vanguard of the unit. They are mostly made up of young men who operate at the security fence. They put themselves in grave danger due to their activities and have lost militant members to IDF gunfire.


Going Forward:

Militant groups are directing and operating at the Gaza border. Negotiations between Hamas and Israel are at an impasse. Hamas has repeatedly stated they won’t cease demonstrations until Israel meets their demands. For the foreseeable future, demonstrations and militant activity at the border is here to stay.


What else is going on in the region..

Location: Syria/Ukraine

After the accidental downing of a Russian military spy plane with 14 soldiers on board by Syrian air defense on September 18th — an incident that the Russians blamed on Syrian anti-air units mistaking it for an Israeli F-16 — the Russian Ministry of Defense shipped three battalions of surface to air S-300s to Syria on October 2nd in an attempt to deter further Israeli strikes in Syria. The IDF denied any wrongdoing in the Syrian downing of the Russian military plane.


There have been multiple reports of an American/Israeli delegation secretly visiting Ukraine last week to examine Ukraine’s S-300 system in attempts to gain know-how about the system. Specifically, how Israeli jets can evade the S-300 by learning it’s strengths and weaknesses.

This wouldn’t be the first time Israel’s airforce made efforts to learn and develop countermeasures against the S-300 system. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post in 2015, at the request of the United States, Greece allowed Israeli pilots to practice against their S-300. Specifically, the Israelis tested how the lock-on system worked on the S-300 and were able to gather important technical information in attempts to spoof the S-300’s radar system.

Israel’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, stated in April; “One thing needs to be clear: If someone shoots at our planes, we will destroy them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an S-300 or an S-700.”