Israel’s invasion of Gaza

Israel’s invasion of Gaza. By Jim Dunnigan.

Military aspects:

Both Hamas and Israel are far better prepared than the Japanese and Americans were for the battle of Manila. The Gaza civilians are more vulnerable than Manila’s Filipinos because the opposing forces will use much more firepower, and have more problems with water supplies. People can live without water for only five days.

Worse, Hamas is a true death cult, and they already consider Gaza’s civilians to be prospective useful martyrs whom they can kill themselves to blame it on the Israelis. And they already have, with car bombs against Gaza civilians fleeing from the northern to the southern half of Gaza to get away from the fighting. There are videos of this.

Most civilians will take cover in tunnels to escape surface fighting and Israeli bombardment. Even if Hamas does not use them as human shields against Israeli attack, it will be very difficult for Israeli soldiers to distinguish tunnels containing only civilians from those containing Hamas fighters too. The first Israeli solution to this was to order civilians in the northern half of Gaza to move to the southern half. Hamas tried to stop this with car bombs but failed.

Urban fighting is bad enough, especially in Gaza with scores of thousands of booby traps in buildings and tunnels, but the tunnels particularly will make it far worse than any urban combat in history. Israel casualties could easily exceed the 11,000 of the Yom Kippur War but for one particular innovation — the “sponge bomb”, a variety of rapidly expanding foam plastic that hardens to concrete consistency, and is delivered by anything from a man-portable grenade or an engineering-type large foam sprayer. The grenade-type device would create a temporary tunnel barrier a meter thick while the engineering devices could form 5-10 meters thick semi-permanent barriers.

Such almost instantly effective sprayable tunnel barriers, if they work, will be crucial because they allow the Israelis to use standard urban combat tactics of slow, methodical advances to isolate small chunks of areas, clear those, and do this repeatedly. Gaza’s network of tunnels (people can probably move underground from any 3+ story Gaza building to any other 3+ story building) would allow Hamas to constantly infiltrate more fighters behind the Israelis. Sprayable tunnel barriers will prevent that. Israel can take small bites above and below ground simultaneously. …

With that in mind, and that Israel has obviously prepared years for such an offensive, the conquest of northern Gaza, including its tunnels, might take 9 Israeli infantry brigades, with lots of engineers, as little as 10-14 days @ 300 casualties a day. Assuming 1500 infantry in the rifle companies of each brigade totaling 13,500, that would be 3,000-4,200 casualties or about 22-31% of the force involved. That’s enough to put them out of action for months. 9 more, fresh, infantry brigades would be required to conquer Gaza’s second half, so Israel is looking at 6-8 thousand casualties total.

Then southern Gaza?

When Israel is ready to conquer Gaza’s southern half, they will order civilians there to move to tent cities in adjacent areas of southern Israel. An Israeli general announced this several weeks ago. Hamas is unlikely to allow this, which will be tough for the civilians but some will probably survive and be cared for by Israeli medics and civil affairs personnel. The US did the same concerning stay-behind German civilians in the 1945 Battle of Aachen, and stay-behind Sunni Arab civilians in the 2004 second battle of Fallujah.

Then what? Chip the remaining Palestinians??

Assuming at least several hundred thousand Gaza civilians survive the Israeli conquest, Israel will have to govern them afterward, mostly because no one else wants them. It is almost certain that the survivors will hate the Israelis as much as they did before Israel gave up its occupation of Gaza in 2005, and most everyone expects enough will eventually give Israel as much trouble as they did before 2005, which was enough to convince Israel to get out then.

Israeli strategic planners have been trying to find other solutions and will likely, eventually,“chip” Gaza’s surviving civilians with pet-id type radio frequency identification (RFID) chips as the technology for that long-predicted population control system has become available.

“Chipping” here means injecting rice grain-sized computer chips into a wearer’s body, powered by body heat, containing a radio wave receiver/transmitter which will, upon receiving a radio command from an RFID device, transmit a radio signal containing the embedded identification number of the wearer. Ranges vary depending on the device. Body heat-powered ID chips can probably be picked up now at several dozen yards and that will improve with technology. Thousands of tiny RFID devices and repeaters for those would have to be covertly spread around in Gaza but that is a solvable engineering issue.

Such a population control solution would have enormous consequences, starting with Israel’s own conception of itself. But it is now feasible.