The Phrases “Unity of Fields [of Battle]”, “Unity of Fronts” or “Axis of Resistance”: Between Slogan and Reality
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This paper deals with the phrase or concept of “Unity of Fields” or “Axis of Resistance” in currency in the last few years among resistance movements in Palestine, Lebanon, and other countries, and seeks to understand the dimensions and implications of this concept and its realistic applicability, as well as the challenges facing these movements today, especially after the Tufan al-Aqsa battle.


In recent years new phrases having to do with the Arab Israeli conflict have become popular. They call for unifying the fields of confrontation or for uniting all fronts against the Israeli enemy, or else for the creation of what is called an “Axis of Resistance” to include all resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and other countries of the region. This slogan resembles what in the seventies and eighties used to be called the “Steadfastness and Confrontation Front” which included a number of Arab countries and Palestinian movements who rejected any compromising agreements with the Israeli enemy such as the Camp David accords concluded between the Egyptian regime and the Zionist entity in 1978. This was also true of many Arab and leftist fronts who supported Palestinian resistance.

Where did the phrase “Unity of Fields” or “Unity of Fronts” originate? What is the difference between this phrase and the phrase “Axis of Resistance”? And what effect will the Tufan al-Aqsa battle have on the future of this Axis or slogan in light of the aftermath, political and actual, of the October 7, battle, whose repercussions are still with us today?

First: The two phrases “Unity of Fields” and “Axis of Resistance”

It could be argued that the phrase “Unity of Fields” gained currency following the Sword of Jerusalem” battle, launched by HAMAS in May, 2021, in defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque and as a reaction to repeated Zionist violations of the Mosque complex and the attempt to efface the Shaykh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem[1].

This phrase was put into effect in an obvious manner by rockets that were launched from the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon and Syria, to coincide with mounting resistance operations on the West Bank and violent confrontations taking place in several Palestinian territories occupied since 1948. Some Israeli commentators acknowledged the accuracy of this phrase following the Al-Jihad al-Islami battle waged in April, 2023 which ended in a ceasefire. Despite the fact that HAMAS had not joined that battle, an Israeli journalist, Yoni ben Menahim, wrote: “Attacking Israel with rockets during the Easter season from Gaza and south Lebanon is only the first stage in a war of attrition waged by the ‘Axis of Resistance’, led by Iran, by employing the strategy of ‘Unity of Fronts’.”[2]

Accordingly, by the axis of “Unity of Fronts” is meant in practice moving several fields and fronts simultaneously against the Israeli enemy even when a particular resistance movement began the battle for its own particular reasons. These fields include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, the Syrian Jawlan, Iraq and Yemen, and sometimes joined by the Palestinians living in territories occupied in 1948.

As for the phrase “Axis of Resistance”, it was first used by Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah, Secretary-General of Hizbullah, by a number of Iranian officials and by some Hizbullah leaders, together with certain media outlets which support this axis (Al-Mayadin TV station, Al-Akhbar newspaper and Al-Manar TV station). Reference can be made to a study published on the website of Al-Mayadin about this axis and how it was formed.[3]

The phrase “Axis of Resistance” is broader in meaning than the phrase “Unity of Fields” because it includes Iran and the Syrian regime and might include other parties in other countries. This Axis is watched over by the Al-Quds corps of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard which was developed and organized by the former commander of that corps, General Qasim Sulaymani. The tasks of this Axis include the states and movements of resistance throughout the region and are not confined solely to the Palestine question.

Based on information obtained from resistance sources in Lebanon, coordination and cooperation exist between all forces of resistance in the region, and joint operation centers have been created in the last few years. There also exist joint activities in the areas of training and exchange of expertise. In the past two years, Hizbullah and Iran were successful in repairing relations between HAMAS and the Syrian regime following serious differences arising from the attitude of HAMAS towards the “Arab Spring” and the events in Syria. This has led many observers to assert that strong relations between HAMAS and the Axis of Resistance have been restored. Many meetings have been held in Beirut and Tehran which bring together resistance leaders, especially the meetings between Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah, Secretary-General of Hizbullah, and Ziyad Nakhalih, Secretary-General of Al-Jihad al-Islami and HAMAS leaders, sometimes with the participation of Iranian officials.

Second: The Tufan al-Aqsa battle and the “Unity of Fields”

When HAMAS and the Al-Qassam brigades launched the Tufan al-Aqsa battle on October 7, but without prior coordination with other movements of resistance in Palestine and the region, and without Hizbullah’s knowledge, as affirmed by Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah,[4] or of the Iranians, as affirmed by the supreme leader of Iran, al-Sayyid `Ali Khamenei,[5] many began to question the future of slogans like “Unity of Fields” and “Axis of Resistance” and whether these forces still operated in a coordinated manner. This was especially the case since participation in the battle by other resistance movements did not lead to a wider opening of the various fronts or to total war, as advocated by the leaders of that axis. The journalist Michael Young, writing for the website of the Carnegie Institute (and later re published by the Aswaq al-`Arab website, stated: “Earlier this year, Nasrullah began to speak for the first time about what he called the strategy of ‘Unity of Fields’ and ‘Unity of Fronts’ meaning that the militias of the ‘Axis of Resistance’ would coordinate their military activity against Israel, in order to surround it with a ring of fire. This meant that if Israel crossed some red lines in the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem or in its treatment of members of the ‘Axis of Resistance’, the militias would take revenge in a unified manner and at the same time.”

This strategy was put to the test by the Gaza war but also forced the parties to this Axis to spell out the meaning of coordination. From the very start Hizbullah and Iran stated very clearly that there were limits to what the Axis would allow Israel to do in Gaza, including an invasion of the Gaza Strip. However, they did not clarify at all what their response would be, nor the extent to which they were prepared to go while preserving a margin of maneuverability.[6]

Furthermore, statements by some HAMAS leaders such as the one made by Khalid Mash`al, head of HAMAS foreign branch, which expressed some dissatisfaction with Hizbullah and called upon it to expand its role in the battle, caused further perplexity in the relations among resistance forces. This took place in an interview with Mash`al on Al-Araby TV[7], whereas other HAMAS leaders expressed their thanks to Hizbullah, the resistance movements and Iran for their role in supporting HAMAS and the Palestinian people. Additionally, the head of HAMAS Political Bureau, Isma`il Haniyyah, visited Iran at the head of a HAMAS delegation, and met with Al-Sayyid Khamenei and other Iranian officials. Likewise, in Beirut, a meeting was held which included Al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah and Ziyad Nakhalih, Secretary of Al-Jihad al-Islami, and Salih al-`Aruri, deputy head of HAMAS’s Political Bureau, which stressed coordination and cooperation among all forces of resistance following the Tufan al-Aqsa battle.

On the battlefront, the launching by HAMAS of the Tufan al-Aqsa battle came as a surprise to everyone, whether on the international, regional, Palestinian or Israeli scenes, since there were certain signs indicating that HAMAS preferred the path of political solutions and that their priority was to hold onto power in Gaza and receive economic and financial aid. Furthermore, HAMAS did not join operations launched by Al-Jihad al-Islamic over the past two years, a matter which led some analysts to conclude that the concept of “Unity of Fields” had effectively come to an end.

Third: Aftermath of the battle and how to interpret the logic of “Unity of Fields”

Once the Tufan al-Aqsa battle commenced, and despite the absence of prior coordination among the resistance forces, we have come to witness the participation of all these forces in the battle, out of their commitment to the logic of “Unity of Fields”. The most prominent of these participations are:

  1. In the Gaza Strip, all resistance forces have joined the battle, chiefly Al-Jihad al-Islami alongside HAMAS. There is a joint operations room that runs the various battles in the Strip.

  2. In the West Bank and Jerusalem, all resistance forces have joined the battle, and the West Bank is currently witnessing armed battles and confrontations with the Israeli Army and the Jewish Settlers. The Israeli Army has arrested more than two thousand Palestinians and about two hundred civilians and fighters have been martyred.

  3. In the territories occupied since 1948, we have not witnessed any large-scale uprisings as happened in 2021, but there have been certain limited activities and expressions of sentiment censuring the war on Gaza.

  4. On the Lebanese scene, Hizbullah, alongside the Al-Fajr forces of the al-Jama`a al-Islamiyya, the Qassam brigades of HAMAS, the Al-Aqsa brigades of Al-Jihad al-Islami, the Al-Saraya al-Lubnaniyya to Resist Occupation, and Afwaj al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya belonging to the AMAL movement, have all joined the battle, although, militarily, the role of Hizbullah is the most significant. The battle has come to span most Israeli military outposts both in al-Shib`a Farms, alongside the border and inside the occupied territories, including the targeting of Israeli settlements near the border such as Kiryat Shmona, Nahariya and others.

  5. On the Jawlan front, some rockets and drones have been launched but participation is relatively limited. The Israeli enemy has repeatedly bombed both Damascus and Aleppo airports as well as Hizbullah positions in Syria, where several Hizbullah fighters have been martyred.

  6. On the Iraq front, the forces of Islamic resistance and the Hizbullah brigades launched a number of rockets and drones against American bases in Iraq and Syria, considering the USA to be a major sponsor of the Israeli entity in its war and thus a necessary target. American forces responded by shelling positions belonging to pro-Iranian forces in Syria. Some rockets were also fired on Eilat airport.

  7. On the Yemen front, the Yemeni army, which has the support of the Ansar Allah movement, joined the battle by firing ballistic missiles and drones. The army spokesperson stated that some of these missiles and drones had hit Israeli targets, including Eilat airport. Some media reports indicated that US forces and navy in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean succeeded in intercepting most Yemeni missiles and drones fired towards Israel.

  8. On the Iranian front, we have not seen any military action. Instead, Iranian activity has been diplomatic, and meetings have been held with various parties. Iran declared its support for the Palestinian people and HAMAS while Iranian officials have made numerous statements warning that the Gaza conflict could turn into an all-out war.

In conclusion, one might state that we have witnessed numerous efforts to activate the concept of “Unity of Fields” but this has not yet reached the level of an all-out and unified war. This may be due to lack of prior coordination and preparation among these forces and also because all-out war might lead to a major international war in the region, especially in light of the threats issued by the US to Iran and Hizbullah that a widening of the conflict would result in severe responses to these two powers. Nevertheless, one should note that widening the battle front into all-out war remains a distinct possibility as long as the war on Gaza has not come to an end.

Fourth: The future of “Unity of Fields” after the Tufan al-Aqsa Battle

Today, the question one might pose is this: What is the future of the concept of “Unity of Fronts” or the “Axis of Resistance” in the aftermath of the Tufan al-Aqsa battle and its political, military and practical consequences? The answer will of course be difficult to determine while the battle still rages, and before a ceasefire comes into effect which lays down where matters stand on the political and military levels, and on the ground itself. But some observations may be suggested which can later be expanded:

  1. Despite the importance of the “Unity of Fields” slogan and its partial implementation, there remains a certain lack of coordination among the forces that espouse that slogan, since each party has its own calculus of what its role is to be in this battle and takes into consideration the area in which it operates within the framework of the larger conflict.

  2. Up to the present moment, we have not yet arrived at a unified and well-coordinated front which runs the battle in a collective manner and in accordance with a single aim and policy, despite the existence among them of common objectives and coordination, be it bilateral or general.

  3. The regional and international situation and how each resistance movement or power relates to that situation, together with the domestic circumstances in each country: all these factors are very relevant in each case.

  4. Once the Tufan al-Aqsa battle comes to an end, and depending upon its political, military, demographic and actual results on the ground, there will be a need for an assessment of what took place, a close examination of the reasons for lack of coordination and how to prepare for the coming stage. This is because this battle will not bring the conflict to an end but is merely an advanced stage in that conflict which will have important bearings on the future of the Arab Israeli conflict.

Finally, the Tufan al-Aqsa battle was a practical testing of the slogans advanced to confront the Zionist enemy, and there is an urgent need to assess what took place and reformulate the slogans appropriate to the requirements of the battle and effective in defining the objectives that serve the interests of the Palestinian people, of the Palestinian cause and of the future of the struggle against the Zionist enemy. 


[1] Al-Zaytouna Center for Studies & Consultations

ورقة علمية: معركة سيف القدس ﻓﻲ الميزان (رمضان 1442 ه – أيار/ مايو 2021 ) … أ. صالح الحاج حسن

[2] Al-Mayadeen

عن "سيف القدس" و"وحدة الساحات".. كيف تُستنزف "إسرائيل"؟

[3] Al-Mayadeen

محور المقاومة.. النشأة والتطوّر ووحدة المصﻴﺮ


« طوفان الأقصى » نصر الله: قرار فلسطيني 100%

[5] Al-Mayadeen

السيد خامنئي: "طوفان الأقصى" هزيمة عسكرية واستخبارية للاحتلال لا يمكن ترميمها

[6] Aswaq al-Arab

[7] Al-Arabi TV

Author Bio: 

Kassem Kassir is a Lebanese journalist and writer specializing in regional and Lebanese affairs and is the author of many studies.