It has been two months since the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”), Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and various Gazan civilians invaded Israel. Ever since that October 7 attack, the Israeli military (“IDF”) has been pursuing the freedom fighters around Gaza without any dramatic successes. I wonder if this can be compared to the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase.
Unlike most countries, including the U.S., when Israel finds something or someone that it wants to destroy inside a building, it warns the people inside to get out. The result is that Israel blows up a lot of empty buildings. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and non-combatants who don’t want to be martrys are all gone by the time the bomb falls or the missile strikes. Maybe the next day, Israel finds out where Hamas’s soldiers are and the process is repeated without a single Hamas soldier being killed or taken prisoner. This leads to the question “What is the military value of destroying an empty building?”
Here are some possible answers:
- the building contained important military equipment that would have taken more than a few hours to move
- the building was on top of a tunnel entrance and collapsing it keeps the tunnel from being used
- the building is next to a planned infantry/tank approach to another target and destroying it prevents freedom fighters from using the building as cover
I would love it if someone could explain which of the above is correct or if there is some other explanation.
This is not to say that I agree with Palestinians polled who believe that their victory over Israel is assured. I think it is possible that two months of small successes could eventually lead to an ultimate big success.
Separately, can someone explain this IDF video of a fight against Hamas/Islamic Jihad soldiers who were inside a couple of schools?
(As noted previously here, I disagree with the video’s reference to “terrorists” to refer to men who carry guns on behalf of the freely elected government of Gaza, even those men kill civilians whenever possible.)
All of the civilians moved out of this area weeks earlier, according to the video, so that’s what the soldiers believed. If you were on the ground and taking fire from a nearby building, wouldn’t you call in an airstrike or artillery strike against the building rather than risk your opponent having some successful shots? Why risk your life to save US/EU taxpayers from having to buy the Palestinians a new school? I don’t think that there is an argument that children would be disadvantaged by the destruction of an empty school building. There is no limit to the UNRWA aid guarantee and, therefore, a new building would be built in short order. Maybe the argument is that Israel doesn’t want to destroy UNRWA assets so as to maintain good relations with UNRWA, but to judge by Twitter the UNRWA folks already hate Israel and already say that Israel blows up their schools and other stuff “indiscriminately”. If there ever was a time for indiscriminately blowing up a building, when better than as the enemy is shooting at you from that building?
The explanation for the fighting, as opposed to just bombing, doesn’t seem to apply to the school situation:
Hamas fighters are embedded in the strip’s densely packed buildings and hidden in an expansive network of underground tunnels, making close-quarters fighting unavoidable, Israeli officials said.
I still can’t figure out why the tunnels weren’t all located with ground-penetrating radar and then destroyed weeks ago (see Will the Gaza tunnel network prove to be Hamas’s Maginot Line?).
The Wall Street Journal implies that the O.J. chase will come to an end shortly.
Israeli forces closed in on southern Gaza’s largest city in what is becoming a decisive battle of the two-month-old war with Hamas.
Israeli forces moving into the militants’ stronghold of Khan Younis are entering a battleground of narrow streets packed with displaced Palestinians. In close-quarters combat, Hamas fighters there are defending their last major bastion in Gaza, home to its leader, Yahya Sinwar, and the location where Israel believes the group’s other leaders are hiding and holding hostages.
An Israeli victory in Khan Younis would likely corner remaining Hamas fighters in small areas in central Gaza and close to the Egyptian border, surrounded by Israeli troops. And it could heighten intense international pressure on Israel to end the war and seek a settlement that frees more than 100 hostages and ends Hamas’s rule in Gaza.
I don’t see why the fighters couldn’t go back to the north, but maybe the IDF has already spoiled the tunnels up there.
In favor of the WSJ’s theory that doom is at hand for Hamas is the intensified tweetstorm from Hamas allies calling for ceasefires. Doctors without Borders (MSF) is posting almost hourly (they have multiple accounts, one from each affiliate country) demands for Israel to surrender (i.e., a “ceasefire” in which Hamas remains in control of Gaza). My favorite MSF tweet is one in which they complain that the cars they left parked on the street were trashed when an Israeli tank column came through. They separately claimed that innocent children are being killed everywhere in Gaza, but their primary concern is for their own cars.
UNRWA tweets have gone from maximum hysteria to double secret maximum hysteria, each one yielding responses from Twitter users reminding them that one hostage says he was imprisoned by a UNRWA teacher. Example:
My assumption is that Hamas will just melt into the civilian population that overwhelmingly supports it and the war will fizzle out, but I’m usually wrong so maybe the WSJ is correct that there will be a dramatic event soon.
Update, December 7: