Skip to comments.Israel's Military Might Is Tested by Hamas' Stamina: Experts
Posted on 07/23/2014 10:31:23 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Hamas may be militarily outnumbered and outgunned by Israel, but it has the stamina and training to turn the Gaza ground invasion into a protracted urban war, experts warned Tuesday.
Six days after Benjamin Netanyahu ordered ground forces across the border into Gaza, the death toll has climbed to more than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israeli soldiers - more than twice as many military casualties as in the last Gaza ground war of 2009.
Hopes that the invasion by Israeli Defense Forces would swiftly end the tit-for-tat aerial exchange of Palestinian rockets and Israeli missiles look to have been dashed as gaps between the sides remain wide.
Hamas strategy seems to be to suck Israeli forces into a situation where their numerical and qualitative advantages are neutralized, by tunneling into areas where they can attack or laying various traps, said Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. It is trying to conduct a classic urban guerrilla conflict for which it has no doubt been preparing for some time.
The Israeli prime minister's stated aim is to smash the tunnels that allow militant Palestinians to cross the border and attack Israeli forces and to restore sustainable quiet for citizens in southern Israel living under the threat of rocket fire. "It is not possible to deal with tunnels only from the air. It needs to be done also from the ground," the Israeli PM said Friday.
But even as it suffers heavy losses, Hamas top leader in Gaza reiterated his goal of forcing Israel and Egypt to lift the long-standing border blockade. "We cannot go back, we cannot go back to the silent death" of the blockade, Ismail Haniyeh said. "Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and by its courage."
Hamas has not even been pinpricked by the number of its forces killed inside Gaza, said Daniel Nisman, president of The Levantine Group, a Tel Aviv-based risk analysis consultancy. The stamina of Hamas is probably greater than Israels.
Israel vs. Hamas in numbers
Israel has 176,500 active military service personnel comprising 133,000 soldiers, 9,500 in the navy and 34,000 in the air force, according to Janes The Military Balance 2014. Among them are eligible volunteers from around the world, including the United States. It also has reserve forces totalling 465,000, most of which are soldiers.
Even taking into account recent budget cuts, the IDF "remain the most capable force in the region [Middle East], with the motivation, equipment and training to considerably overmatch the conventional capability of other regional armed forces, according to Janes.
The military strength of Hamas is harder to quantify. Precise personnel strength figures for the various Palestinian groups are not known, says Janes, which lists Palestinian forces under the heading paramilitary and puts the figure at 56,000. However, most of those are under the management of the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank.
In Gaza, Hamas has a direct fighting capability estimated at about 20,000 personnel, including members of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades. That's 10,000 full-time soldiers and another 10,000 policemen who have wartime mobilization orders, Nisman said. Outside of that are other militant groups including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has several thousand members, and the Popular Resistance Committees.
The lines between militants, soldiers and police and even civilians - are blurred, Nisman said. Hamas is basically an army, he said. Some security forces moonlight as al-Qassam fighters.
Hamas is organized in brigades, platoons and companies just like a military, said Brigadier General Asaf Agmon, head of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, which was established by Israels Air Force Association. Having small units that can operate autonomously, carrying out their own individual attacks, is one of the reason Hamas is regarded by Israel as a terrorist organization. Agmon said some Palestinian militants who crawled out of a tunnel on Monday night had disguised themselves by wearing IDF uniforms.
The conflict on the ground
About four of five IDF infantry divisions are thought to be inside Gaza. While IDF forces might be better-equipped, the ground battle is proving tough and very deadly. Both sides show evidence of miscalculation.
In the Shejaia neighborhood, east of Gaza City, heavy Israeli airstrikes and shelling has led to the deaths of well over 100 Palestinians since Sunday. IDF troops in that area are also encountering ambushes and anti-tank missiles, including an improvised explosive device that killed 13 soldiers in a vehicle over the weekend.
Q&A: The History Behind Israels Gaza Offensive
In addition, Hamas has made almost nightly attempts to infiltrate Israel by crawling through underground tunnels.
It is probably the most intense combat zone anywhere in the Middle East, more intense than many places in Syria or Iraq, said Nisman. There are booby-trapped houses everywhere and the Hamas fighters are incredibly entrenched. There is a real question about whether Hamas will retreat into Gaza or not. This is a more aggressive Hamas than weve seen and a more aggressive Hamas than Israel anticipated.
Hamas has been planning this conflict for months. There were testing long-range rockets in the Sinai and building these tunnels to kidnap [Israeli] soldiers - maybe they didnt think the IDF would invade in the way that it has done.
The scope of IDF activity has also widened as the conflict stretches on. They went past their A list of target sites a long time ago, said Doyle. They may be tempted into taking on sites that have less and less legitimacy.
Secretary of State John Kerry was in Cairo Tuesday, sent by President Barack Obama to seek a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. But the prospects of a long-lasting deal appear thin.
A senior Israeli official told NBC News on Tuesday that there was no lasting cease-fire on the horizon and no sign of Israels military mission being completed. Hamas is not ready to agree on terms that are anywhere near what we can accept, the official said.
Nobody wants to agree to a cease-fire, Nisman said, adding that the worst outcome for Netanyahu would be a deal that imposed the same conditions that ended the last round of fighting in 2012. That would be political suicide, he said, noting that most Israelis favor an outcome that conclusively prevents another cross-border conflict.
Both sides need to be able to declare some kind of political victory but it is not going to resolve the underlying issues, said Doyle. There is always going to be the threat of kidnappings or other forms of action by Hamas and Israel will always come over the border when it sees fit and in all of this civilians are the big losers.
Agmon said Israel was determined to deal with the tunnels that pose a threat to Israelis living in border areas, if necessary expanding the ground invasion by a few more days or even weeks. He said: Even if there will be cease-fire I am sure we will insist, no more tunnels." Otherwise, he said, it is like going to sleep and not knowing who will pop up in your bedroom.
Ben Plesser and Polly DeFrank of NBC News contributed to this report.
this needs to be the LAST war with Hamas , not just another one ....
Why doesn’t Israel turn the damned place into new parking lot?
man woman child and beast.....all
75% of the Muzzie population in Gaza support terror ops against Israel. Time to move the all to Jordan (aka east Palestine; the real Palie homeland if there ever was one). Besides, 80% of the Palies have family in Jordan.
So Hamas is playing the World War II Japanese tactics card? Remind me how that ended up?
I doubt Israel has turned a significant portion of it’s military might against hamas just yet, but I can understand how the No Brains Corp. would do whatever they can to denigrate Israel.
Israel could have brought Gaza to it's knees in 3 hours, not 16 days BUT...and this is the BIGGEST BUT, a civilized, Western, Liberal Democracy like Israel limits itself out of a fear of Western backlash and endless UN investigations. Israel (at the price of her soldiers) limits her ability to do damage to the enemy. It is an absurdity never before seen in the history of the world.
Israel is the ONLY country in the world that must fight a murderous terror group (HAMAS, PLO, Hizbollah) with 2 hands tied behind their backs. Who else drops leaflets and warns the inhabitants of a target to clear out? Nobody but the Jews. It is time for the Israelis to apply some former Soviet tactics, maybe we can call it, “Putin-light”?
A UN commissioner for UNESCO was describing conditions there see during her visit. She said 70% of peopl have no access to safe water. Several major sewage treatment plants have been destroyed, and raw sewage is now going into the Med. Also food and medicine supplies low. Doesn’t sound like conditions for a sustained battle.
Israel needs to take the kid gloves off and elminate these constant murderous threats to her citizens and communities
yes, this will necessarily involve more casualties
and more grim pictures in the mass media (expect bad PR)
but it will save countless more innocent civilian casualties from future IslamoNazi bombs and missiles
(admittedly, there’s little good PR in protecting innocent Jewish or Christian lives these days .... but they’re still worth saving)
If one house is booby-trapped, all houses are booby-trapped.
Nothing higher than 1 meter can exist within 2K of the border.
Monitor resulting cordon sanitaire with acoustic devices.
You think Israel is going to nuke their own territory?
I’ve seen older maps and textbooks that call Jordan “Trans-Jordanian Palestine”. There were a lot of Palie refugees in Jordan until the early ‘70s. when the Palies rewarded Jordans compassion by trying to overthrow the Government. Jordan ended up killing about 5,000 of them and kicking the rest out, most of them into gaza. As others have said “the palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.
Please read the Andrew McCarthy article on National Review.
I think that would be a very bad thing for Israel.
“... more than twice as many military casualties as in the last Gaza ground war of 2009.”
That is dihonest reporting.
There were more than 1,200 deaths for the Pali’s and Israel lost 3 civilian and 6 soldiers.
The article slants that this costing Israel more than it’s worth, to dissuade them from further operations and apply further political pressure.
Yep. I know several so called Palestinians here in the U.S. and they constantly visit Jordan, where their families live.
Many are from families that have lived here for 30+ years.
They call themselves Palestinians as a political expression, as there is no such existence of Palestinian:
History before 1968
Or anything that gives them content for their synthetic context other than claiming they are Pali’s for political reasons.
In fact, the Pali’s I know have given their family history of generations, dating 100’s of years, which have always been in what use to be called Trans Jordan and is now Jordan proper, as recognized by other nations and the U.N..
When your survival is on the line, I’m thinking public relations goes out the window. Israel also has nuclear-tipped submarine-launched cruise missiles. I don’t think they spent that kind of money for no reason.
If I were the leader of Israel I’d go Herrod on them and be done with it.
A “quite peace” would be possible for two generations.
The Pali’s can’t seem to build anything of value and prefer to live in squaler, relying on the benefits of living under Palestinian rule.
the only thing they seem to be good at is causing trouble and making bombs.
They aren’t interested in growing their economy and prospering.
Much better to be tools in their long view of their world view and eventually, one day, drive Israel into the sea.
They can’t even be decent heirs to anything Israel gives them, so they might prosper.
No, they much prefer to take working and profitable green houses and dismantle them for elements of their bomb making schemes.