Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza's Asymmetric War

I have posted (1,2) about the political perspective on the bombings; now for the military. This action is a classic response in an asymmetric war. So how will it pan out?

First reports suggest that the attacks were planned in advance by Israel and they struck when they knew Hamas personal to be at their posts. The same reports suggest that the attacks have delivered a blow against Hamas's hidden cache of weapons.

This matters because it has been suggested that Hamas have been modelling themselves on Hezbollah (following their 2006 kicking of the IDF) so says the noted war reporter David Axe;

If Israel ground forces were to roll into Gaza, they would face 15,000 fighters who have absorbed the lessons of the Lebanon War, Haaretz claims. "For two years Hamas, with Iranian assistance, has been working hard on developing its military power, using Hezbollah as a model."

Hamas' forces reportedly feature:

* A large stockpile of rockets and mortars
* Anti-tank weapons capable of targeting helicopters
* An extensive network of defensive bunkers, tunnels (pictured here) and booby traps

The heart of the force is the 1,000 elite Iz al-Din troops who "undergo rigorous military training as well as participating in ideological classes held in mosques."

Now there are reports that the Israeli's are massing ground forces for a possible incursion/re-occupation. However what they must be thinking is; are Hamas ready for this? Cast your mind back to 2006 and that time Israel vs Hezbollah;

But as you may recall, those tanks got a real different reception when they chased Hezbollah's raiding party back into Lebanon after the Hezzies killed three IDF soldiers and kidnapped another two. The IDF mid-ranking commanders had to act fast because the Gaza command was taking heat for not pursuing Shalit's kidnappers fast enough. So they shouted, "Charge!" and the first Merkava steamed over the border.

Guess how far it got. Ten meters. Ten goddamn meters. Then KABOOM! A Hezbollah mine or shaped charge turned it into a very expensive oven, with four crew killed. Another IDF soldier died trying to rescue them. So within a few minutes the IDF had lost eight men. As far as I know, Hezbollah's losses were zero.

So now the chess pieces are in-place. The questions are; has Hamas anticipated (indeed wanted) a ground incursion? Will the Israeli's give it to them.

Not only that - but if the IDF marches into Gaza and Hamas can give it a kicking - the reputation of the IDF is going to be very low indeed and the gamble will have failed (or back-fired).

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