Academy SITREP – Israel Expands Ground Operations in Gaza
- Israeli ground troops entered Gaza late last week, starting a new phase in its war to destroy the Islamist militant group Hamas.
- The Israeli ground operations are currently moving against “staging sites” for Hamas militants and are including airstrikes on these targets as well.
- Hamas is highly embedded in the Palestinian population and has been preparing for an offensive for years (stockpiling supplies and weapons) and is hiding in a web of tunnels 300 miles long known as the “Gaza Metro.”
- Israeli troops are likely trying to put themselves in a position to encircle and eventually control what comes in and out of Gaza City.
- Israel has been advised by many to avoid a full-scale invasion of Gaza at this time, particularly because more than 200 hostages are still being held there by Hamas.
- Hamas claims that they have at least 40,000 fighters and could also be joined by members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller group that also has ties to Iran.
- As reported in our SITREP last week, the U.S. conducted airstrikes against Iranian-backed proxy forces in Syria, while Israel has also carried out strikes against military infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah targets).
- The continuing risk for Israel is that another front will open up in the north or in the West Bank (which is run by the Palestinian Authority), and other Iranian-backed proxy forces could get involved.
“Looks like IDF ground forces are expanding their operations now. The advance is being led with armored bulldozers, tanks, and heavy infantry fighting vehicles. The raids over the last few days have likely allowed the IDF to build a decent intelligence picture of Hamas tunnels, rockets, forces, and the locations of innocent civilians. Ideally, we would see that a rapid cycle of intelligence and operations will allow the IDF to put Hamas on their ”back foot.” This is much more than just a ground campaign. While naval and air components of the campaign will be important, the information domain will be the true arbiter of Israeli success or failure over the next few weeks. In any case, this period reveals the risk of a “mowing the grass” strategy by Israel that makes the yard look acceptable but never really transforms the situation.” – General Michael Groen
“I would add that one of the second order effects that a “mowing the grass” strategy may generate is the risk of local popular dissent against rulers in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. The entire scenario changes if a domino-effect of unrest begins. Certainly, this is an opportunity for Iran, Russia, and China should they choose to pour gas on the fire via a variety of social and traditional media venues.” – General Mastin Robeson