the army plans to split the strip in two
The tragedy that darkened the south of Israel on Saturday is now spreading over the urban fabric of the motley Gaza. There is no precedent for such an intense and extensive offensive by the Israeli armed forces in this enclave.
The aviation, the Navy and the artillery fired without rest yesterday, and it has been five days of war. The Strip is suffering widespread punishment for the atrocities committed by Hamas militants on Saturday morning, a massacre of Jews that some commentators say has not been seen since the Holocaust.
On the wings of this atrocity, the Israeli army awaits the order to further intensify the fight with entry by land into this enclave of more than two million inhabitants.
Israeli military warns of a dirty war when fighting in the streets
The invasion, according to military spokesman Richard Hecht, “will not be clean.” Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Cornicus states that in the coming days we will witness “scenes that will be difficult to understand and assimilate.”
We are already seeing them. Gaza hospitals have exceeded their capacity to care for more than 5,000 wounded. The dead now exceed a thousand. Among them there are also women and children, as in Israel.
Cornicus speaks of “unspeakable atrocities” committed on Saturday against more than a thousand defenseless Israelis.
The Hamas militiamen showed no mercy, and now Israel also attacks without forgiveness.
Yesterday, as night fell, Gaza was left in darkness. The only power plant ran out of fuel. The generators that keep hospitals and some homes lit will also soon run dry. There will be no possibility of charging phones or finding coverage. The isolation will be total.
While civilians take shelter in the basements, Hamas militiamen resist in the tunnels, a network of hundreds of kilometers that will be the first objective of the Israeli infantry.
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives the order, this will be the third invasion of Gaza since the 2005 evacuation. Israel occupied the strip in 1967, but withdrew in 2005 because it was too expensive to sustain. He then let Hamas take care of it.
The enclave is left in darkness and incommunicado, with the hospitals overflowing
Today Hamas is Gaza. Nothing escapes your control. Schools and mosques, as well as charities, depend on the Islamist movement.
Netanyahu has let him do it. He never believed he was a threat. He relied on the defensive fence and the Iron Dome. There are no longer any settlements on the strip, nor will there ever be any. There are, however, in the West Bank, and there it has weakened the Palestinian Authority, its ally in terms of security, because it opposes the expansion of the colonies. It is now clear that this was a mistake of historic proportions, and Netanyahu can only correct it by planting Israel's flag in the heart of Gaza.
To defeat Hamas, the army will use two armored divisions and one airborne division. Each division is made up of five brigades, which can mean a deployment of 300,000 soldiers in Gaza.
The most logical strategy would be to split the strip in half, occupying the central area near Der Al Balah. Several brigades would then surround Gaza City in the north and others would do the same with Khan Younis and Rafah in the south. The second phase will be an urban war, the worst scenario for any invading army.
The lessons of 2014, the year of the last invasion, are very clear. The Hamas commandos, armed with rifles, grenades and anti-tank missiles, faced the most prepared soldiers of the Israeli army hand-to-hand.
The skirmishes and coups were a nightmare for the occupying forces, who withdrew 19 days later. The conflict ended like all others, with a truce that allowed Hamas to rebuild and attack again.
Netanyahu has let Hamas do its thing, but has weakened the Palestinian Authority, his theoretical ally
Now, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant assures that Hamas will be “annihilated” and that “Gaza will never be the same.”
During these first days of the new war, Hamas has lost 1,500 men, surely its most seasoned combatants, but maintains its offensive capacity. The rockets continued yesterday testing the Iron Dome in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Jerusalem and the center of the country.
After the 2021 clash, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other armed groups in the strip kept some 8,000 rockets and hundreds of launch pads. In this offensive he has launched about 5,000, more than ever, and surely in these last two years he has been able to strengthen his arsenal even more.
The blockade has never prevented the arrival of money and materials from Iran, its great ally.
In the urban fabric it is impossible to distinguish the civilian from the guerrilla, the innocent from the terrorist.
Defeating Hamas will require an unprecedented military effort because this is not a war that can be won from the air. Firepower will continue to be exceptional to deter the enemy and protect the ground forces that will advance neighborhood by neighborhood. But where will the enemy be? On the streets of Gaza, in the refugee camps, where half of the population is minors, it is impossible to distinguish the civilian from the guerrilla, the innocent from the terrorist.
And where will the 150 or 200 hostages that Hamas has been holding since Saturday be? Bezalel Smotrich, one of the most radical ministers in the Government, has advised the army not to prioritize his rescue.
Still, even if Israel pays an obscene price to behead Hamas and destroy Gaza, it will need someone to govern the territory and it won't find one.
As Dori Damelin, mother of a soldier killed in combat and defender of an agreement with the Palestinians, told me yesterday, “there is no peace that comes from a war.”
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