Israeli Ground Offensive in Gaza
After 8 days of aerial attack on Hamas positions in Gaza, the terrorist organization refused to stop its rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians. In an effort to secure the safety of its citizens, Israel has put boots on the ground and surrounded Gaza City in a mission to destroy Hamas’ military capability to threaten Israelis in the southern villages and towns.
At the moment, it appears the United States may be the only friend Israel has. Governments around the globe are condemning Israel’s ground offensive (Arab nations, Asian nations, Turkey, India, Greece, Venezuela, Cuba, European nations, and I’m sure there are plenty more), but President Bush and even high ranking Democratic Senators of both parties still maintain Israel is within its rights. The United States seems almost alone in condemning the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Apparently Israeli deaths don’t bother the international community.
Anyone who has served in the combat arms of the military understands this is not what Israel wants. The Gaza Strip is a tiny piece of land, about 140 square miles, populated by approximately 1.5 million Palestinians. In other words, it’s quite crowded.
Urban warfare is the most dangerous fighting there is for an attacking force, because the enemy can hide almost anywhere. Hamas certainly knows the urban areas of Gaza better than the Israeli ground soldiers who will be responsible for clearing buildings and locating weapons caches. This is a guerilla fighter’s choice of battlefield. What I’m getting at here, is that Israeli commanders and politicians don’t desire this phase of the conflict, but obviously consider it essential to accomplishing their mission–“to significantly disable the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and produce lasting change in the security predicament affecting residents of southern Israel.”
According to news reports, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) haven’t yet entered Gaza City or other large urban centers in Gaza. Instead, they’ve surrounded Gaza City and divided the country into three parts. They cleared the northern village of Beit Lahia, from which most residents had already fled, and have most likely formed a defensive front somewhere between that village and Gaza City to keep Hamas rocket and mortar brigades from leaving the city to fire their weapons into from the north. Israeli forces have also been reported to have reached Netzarim to the south of Gaza City.
The last thing the Israelis want to do is enter densely populated Gaza City. Let’s zoom in and get a closer look at what they’d be fighting.
In dense urban areas such as this, tanks and other armored vehicles are channeled down narrow streets lined with hideouts where the enemy can lie in wait and attack at close range. Ground troops must enter and clear every building–an extremely difficult and dangerous endeavor. Effectively, the Israeli advantage over Hamas guerilla fighters is greatly reduced in this environment. Only Hamas relishes the thought of fighting on the streets of Gaza City.
If the IDF enters the city proper, it’s only because its generals and Israel’s politicians see no other alternative to end Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli citizens.
Today’s news from Gaza reports the IDF is now tightening the noose around the city, engaging Hamas militants in the suburbs to the north. Troops stationed to the south of the city are preventing resupply and reinforcements from that direction.
Militarily, the preferrable course of action would be to set a perimeter and beseige the city, but it might take several weeks to force a surrender. International pressure that would mount in response to the certain humanitarian crisis that would develop likely makes takes this option off the table for Israel. It’s doubtful that even US politicians who still support Israel would continue in supporting such a strategy, and Israel is plagued by uncertainty of what course the new Obama administration will take after 20 January when the new President will be sworn in.
Barack Hussein Obama has remained eerily quiet on the subject since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on Hamas. If he supported Bush’s position, it would greatly ease Israel’s mind and give her military more flexibility in strategy and tactics. There’s little doubt Israeli leaders believe they may be “up against the clock” to wrap up the campaign, or at least accomplish as much as they can by the inauguration.
Hamas could have avoided this entire conflict by recognizing Israel’s right to exist and denouncing terrorism. Instead, it fired rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians. Now, the terror organization is giving its conditions for a cease fire, but they offer nothing to eliminate the threat to Israel. Hamas’ conditions (end to Israeli offensive, end blockade and open all borders) fail to satisfy Israeli objectives and would almost certainly guarantee a restart of its attacks on Israel in the future.
Good luck and God speed Israel.
Hamas Leaders Exploit Israeli Honor, Hide in Hospital Disguised as Doctors and Nurses–All American Blogger
Israel, Hamas, Hatred & the Media–ARRA News Service