Thu 09 Nov 2023 9:25 am - Jerusalem Time

The Gaza war between Israel's weak calculations, Hamas' successful tactics, and the ambiguity of future solutions

By Riad Qahwaji

The Gaza war reveals the accuracy or poorness of each party's calculations. It is progressing at an increasing pace despite the limited field results in Israel's favor. Israeli forces are facing fierce resistance from Hamas fighters, preventing them from making decisive advances, while the tragedy is getting worse for Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip. 

As for the north, on the Lebanese-Israeli border specifically, the rules of engagement that are supposed to keep the clash confined to the areas facing the border strip are being violated daily and gradually, which increases the rate of its sliding into an open war that both sides say they want to avoid. As for Washington, it is working hard to convince its Arab partners that there is an opportunity to reach a two-state solution after the Gaza war, at a time when statements by Israeli officials indicate that they are in another valley and have no intention of implementing the two-state solution as seen by the international community.


Israeli forces are moving in the northern area of the Gaza Strip with extreme caution. It behaves like someone who got into trouble and is afraid of being slapped. Hamas fighters are well prepared and are facing off in high spirits. For them, the enemy is in front of them and the sea is behind them, and therefore they have no choice but to fight either for victory, death, or surrender. Tunnel networks enable them to move freely and safely, without being affected by violent Israeli bombing. This enabled them to surprise the Israeli forces in more than one place, especially on the northern front. They benefited from two important things:


The first is their possession of the Yassin 105 anti-armor missiles, which are manufactured locally. These missiles enabled them to confront Israeli armored vehicles, which constitute the tool of Israeli superiority in ground battles. Many videos have spread showing Hamas fighters emerging from tunnels to surprise Israeli forces and bombard them with Al-Yassin missiles, which have a double filling that sometimes enables them to penetrate the armor of Israeli armor such as the Merkava and Tiger. There is no doubt that these attacks confuse Israeli forces, especially when they come from the rear.


The second thing that Hamas benefited from is the cautious Israeli tactic that aims to reduce human losses among the army's ranks, and thus relies on the intensity of fire and on keeping infantry in the vehicles until it is certain that the targeted area is free of fighters, after which they go out to comb it. Urban warfare is an infantry and special forces war, and the role of armored vehicles in it is for fire support only. Armored vehicles cannot advance between buildings and in alleys without being exposed to precise ambushes. Infantry forces must advance or surround it to provide protection from defending forces hidden in buildings or among rubble. This Israeli caution in advancing enables Hamas fighters to set up ambushes and launch successful attacks from tunnels.


Israel does not appear to have made any significant progress in its quest to reach the main tunnel network of Hamas fighters. What its forces found in the northern Gaza Strip were secondary defense tunnels that were not connected to the bigger network of tunnels. To find tunnels effectively, heavy infantry forces must be used to search for them. But the Israeli leadership is aware of the huge cost to its soldiers if it does so, and it wants to keep its death tolls low in order to maintain the support of internal Israeli public opinion, which supports military action as long as the losses are acceptable.


Based on the movement of the Israeli forces, it appears that they want to impose a cordon on Gaza City with the aim of exhausting Hamas fighters. The Israeli leadership is talking about a long war for months, which means that the goal is to implement a scorched earth strategy while exhausting the Palestinian factions to force them to surrender or starve them and deprive them of the necessities of life. But this strategy needs open American-Western support that provides it with two goals: 

The first is political-media cover that enables it to continue its military operations that are killing thousands of civilians without oversight or accountability. 

The second is to provide financial support to help its economy, which is suffering severely from the consequences of the war, and to call up 350,000 reserve soldiers who, on normal days, constitute an essential part of the workforce in the Israeli economy.


But the problem that Israel and the West are discovering today is that social media has become more powerful than regular media. International news networks such as CNN and BBC are no longer able to monopolize information. Also, local media in America do not have the ability to limit the source of information. The Palestinian factions were able to use the Telegram network to broadcast their own videotapes, which were shared by people and placed on other social networks, which enabled them to reach all parts of the world, along with pictures of the victims of the Israeli bombing, including children and women. 

This caused a major shock to public opinion in the West and prompted tens of thousands of citizens to stage weekly protest movements, demanding an end to the war. Political forces within Western countries have begun to be influenced by the positions of public opinion supporting the Palestinians, which indicates that the ability of the governments of these countries to provide cover for Israeli military operations will be limited and will end within a period of time that may not exceed a few weeks.

The American administration is seeking to calm its Arab allies who are angry about what is happening in the Gaza Strip by stressing that it will turn the current crisis that Israel is facing in Gaza into an opportunity to impose the two-state solution option on the Hebrew state. 

The US Secretary of State makes shuttle tours to countries in the region and around the world for this purpose. But anyone who follows the statements of the Israeli Prime Minister and some of his far-right ministers concludes that they are not on the same wavelength as their American allies. They are exploiting the current situation to create a new reality in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on their fragmentation and giving a greater security role to the Israeli forces there, which completely contradicts the two-state solution. 

This makes it difficult for Washington to convince its allies, and may force it to support the idea of changing the current Israeli government with one that is ready for the peace option. But will this be possible before the Gaza war ends? Is there a guarantee that new Israeli elections will not lead to right-wing parties winning a majority?


As for Israel's northern front, it seems that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah decided to continue the approach of constructive ambiguity in the interest of the axis of resistance, that is, to keep the front in southern Lebanon open in a limited way to prevent the Israeli forces from focusing entirely on Gaza. One of the most important things Nasrallah said in his speech on November 3 is that the title of the battle is Gaza and the Palestinian issue. Opening the northern front and other regional fronts will change the title of the war in Gaza from the Palestinian issue to threatening Iran and its allies in the axis of resistance. This will negatively affect the Palestinian cause and make Hamas's great achievement appear to Arab and international public opinion as if it was part of an Iranian plan to serve Tehran's interests and not an operation by the Palestinian resistance to regain its land. 

But can the rules of engagement be controlled in southern Lebanon? The mechanism for controlling the clash requires the cooperation of both parties to the conflict and gives either party the freedom to escalate dramatically towards war when it finds it in its interest. Regarding this front, the important question remains: Is there an interest for Lebanon as a state and people in opening it? How can this save Hamas in Gaza?

source: Annahar


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The Gaza war between Israel's weak calculations, Hamas' successful tactics, and the ambiguity of future solutions