Thursday, September 18, 2014

Military strategy in Gaza

While we have this extended ceasefire, one can expect that Hamas is busy preparing ambushes and traps for the IDF if the sides cannot come to an agreement and fighting should resume.  This might happen if Hamas refuses to demilitarize Gaza, as it was before they took over in a coup in 2007, in exchange for borders that are still controlled by Israel to prevent smuggling of missiles and terrorists. 
In that case the IDF must be prepared for a smart invasion of Gaza.  I suggest that instead of coming from the east, where they have usually attacked from, into populated areas, such as Gaza City, where Hamas will lay its defences, the IDF should instead attack from the west.  There are two routes, one down the coast from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and also by invasion of paratroopers and landing craft from the sea.  Hamas will not be prepared for this tactic.  At the same time, armored columns should invade from the east, but only through relatively unpopulated areas, so as to break the Gaza Strip into separate divisions.  Then the armoured columns, with support from the troops coming in from the sea, should wheel eastwards and attack the cities from the rear.  In each case armoured bulldozers should clear the way for armoured columns in order to avoid fighting in narrow alleys, which are traps for infantry and foot soldiers.  This should make three clear wide roads into Gaza City, from the west, north-west and south-west.   It is unlikely that Hamas will be adequately prepared for such an invasion route.
Of course, I am not a military strategist, on the contrary I am an armchair strategist, but maybe that perspective is valuable for it adds distance and detachment to the situation.  I am motivated by the descriptions I have read of the wars that Israel fought against the Arab States in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982.  My "expertise" comes from books that I have read, such as "The Arab-Israeli Wars," by Chaim Herzog, "Six Days of War," by Michael Oren and "The Yom Kippur War," by Abraham Rabinovich. Also, "Strategy: the logic of war and peace" by Edward Luttwak is a useful primer.  I remember some incidents vividly, such as the Battle of the Faluja Pocket in 1956, in which Gen. Moshe Dayan encircled the Egyptian Army under the command of Gen Abdul Nasser, the Battle of the Mitla Pass in1967 when Gen. Ariel Sharon cut off the retreat of the whole Egyptian Army, the Battle of the Chinese Farm in 1973, that was fought in order to bring in pontoon bridges to the pre-prepared ramps that Gen. Ariel Sharon had set-up in 1967 and that led to the encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army, forcing  the Egyptian surrender.  These examples of daring and elan (as the French would call it) are good examples of forward thinking and novel approaches that took the enemy by surprise.  This is what is needed to recapture Gaza, rather than running blindly into their traps. 


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