A “Tabouleh Line” in the South?

Ap_gaza2_070613_ssv "According to Israeli officials, Hamas has smuggled 70 tons of high explosives into Gaza since it violently wrested control of the territory from Abbas’ Fatah faction in June. Hamas also has at least 15,000 full-time guerrillas, many of them trained in Iran and Syria.

Israel’s army does not want Hamas to acquire the capabilities Hezbollah demonstrated in Lebanon during the summer war in 2006. IDF officials say they cannot wait until Hamas has built up defenses along the Gaza frontier that would make an invasion unbearably costly in terms of Israeli casualties.

"Hamas is trying to entrench itself along the Gaza Strip border fence," Brig. Gen. Moshe Tamir, a senior commander of Israel’s forces outside Gaza, told journalists recently. "They’re digging tunnels beneath, building bunkers, establishing mortar nests, observation posts and escape routes."

Amos Harel of the Ha’aretz daily said Israel feels its natural tactical superiority being eroded by the asymmetrical fighting with Hamas.

"Until recently, it was obvious who was winning this confrontation. The Israel Defense Force has an enormous advantage in terms of firepower, observation, control of the air, armored vehicles and troop training," Harel said. "But in recent months, the efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to improve Hamas’ military capabilities are beginning to be felt. It is not only better weaponry, but also careful study of the lessons of the Second Lebanon War."  Jewish Arizona


I suspected that it might be true that Hamas forces have been preparting to fight a Hizbullah style positional battle against the IDF.  If that is the case then there is a military reason why the IDF has chosen to go forward now rather than later with an offensive against Gaza.  There is also a military reason why Hamas might welcome such an engagement.

An atttritional battle of the kind fought in Lebanon in ’06 would be greatly to the disadvantage of the IDF. 

Two questions:

– How much has Hamas accomplished in preparations?

– What are Hamas’s intentions?  pl




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22 Responses to A “Tabouleh Line” in the South?

  1. Mad Dogs says:

    Pat wrote: “Two questions:
    – How much has Hamas accomplished in preparations?
    – What are Hamas’s intentions? pl”

    I don’t know the answers, but I have a thought or two:
    1. Israel can’t and won’t destroy Hamas. Not unless they wipe out the entire Palestinian population.
    2. Israel may retard Hamas’s ability to counter-attack for a period of time, but time itself is on the Palestinians’ side (demographics, recruitment, weaponry acquisition, military strategy and tactics acquisition, etc.).
    Bottom line? With each tick of the clock without a fair and just settlement/peace, Israel is losing the battle.
    What are Hamas’s intentions?
    I’d broaden the question to ask what are the Palestinians’ intentions.
    And for the most part, it hasn’t changed. They want their land back. Period. Full stop.
    Can a compromise short of this be obtained?
    Israel best hope so.

  2. frank durkee says:

    Isn’t this a situation in which both of the parties have little or no room for strategic retreat and thus recovery, at least as a hope. It would seem that a potential consequence of this would be a diposition to increased resistance on both sides. As well as creating a sense that the only alternatives are anihilation or submission. To the extent that these factors have any viability don’t they then reduce the possibility of a peacefull accomodatiion and or resolution significantly?

  3. mo says:

    How much have they accomplished? I doubt anything near the set up Hizballah has. They have neither the terrain, the resources or the freedom Hizballah has. Have they managed to instill any of the professionalism Hizballah has into their troops? Time will tell.
    Their intentions? I would think militarily the goal is to be enough of an electoral thorn as to at least be able to demand a seat at the negotiation table. The world thought that the blockade would bring them down, much like the sanctions on Iraq were to bring Saddam down. But much like Iraq, they only served to strengthen their resolve and their support.
    Like Mad Dogs says they believe that the Palestinian people have time on their side. They may or may not be defeated as an organisation but as they displaced the PLO so will they be replaced if they are wiped out. And much like Hamas today makes the Israelis wish for the days of Arafat so will they one day wish for the days of Haniyeh.

  4. Don says:

    It certainly makes sense that Hamas would want to build up defenses, and thus the attack is indeed to preempt a more costly assault if it be felt that one would eventually be necessary.
    However, if Hamas were not ready to battle yet, why would they not lock up all rockets until they are ready? For the sporadic attacks were what gave the Israeli’s the excuse to attack.
    It would seem more likely that the rockets were in response to the siege, or that they were not in Hamas’ control but used by extreme elements who either 1) could not contain their hatred, or 2) wanted to provoke this kind of attack so as to fuel more hatred for Israel, or 3) that the intention was to call the world’s attention to the plight of the Palestinians.
    I can understand the Israeli’s wanting to strike, but they are just making things worse for themselves (and those in Gaza). It is time that we had a world government that could intervene to stop violence against civilians – whether it be terrorism (“freedom fighting”) or oppression (that which makes people become freedom fighters, and is also a form of violence). Although all such institutions lack perfection, they are so much better than the world anarchy we now suffer.

  5. Cloned Poster says:

    Self defense against a bully funded by the US of A would be my quick answer.
    What Israel says, don’t believe a word.

  6. @Mad Dogs,
    It would seem that Daoud Kuttab would share your opinions:
    Has Israel Revived Hamas?
    While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel.

  7. Lysander says:

    Knowing that there may be a high cost to a ground attack will Israel even launch one? Will they not simply bomb from a safe distance, and declare victory?
    There are a couple of main differences ‘o6. WRT whether Israel will Launch a ground assault.
    1) Hizb could maintain a heavy barrage that shut down a third the country. Hamas’ misiles aren’t nearly as effective.
    2) Hizb’s initial attack was an embarrassment for the IDF; 2 captured and 8 killed with a tank destroyed for no loss on the Hizb side. That demanded revenge.
    3) Political leaders were lost in the blood lust and let the trash talk flow unabated. Having talked themselves into a corner, they had to back it up. This time, they have been more restrained (verbally, that is.)
    That said, if there is a mass casualty event from one of the rockets, all bets are off.

  8. b says:

    Where is proof for these Israeli propaganda assertions of Iranian support for Hamas?
    Did Hamas use any MANPADs? Did Hamas use any modern RPG-types?
    How would Hamas fighters reach Iran for training, come back and escape the Egyptian Mukhabarat?
    None of such use or ratline has been reported.
    Iran may give Hamas verbal support and probably some money, but anything else seems implausible as there is nothing supporting the claims.
    As for reason to hit Hamas now there is only one: Elections in Israel.

  9. Jose says:

    Predicting events in the Middle East is like imaging your home team can going from 1-15 to Division champs in one year…
    So perhaps Hamas has already retooled and eager waiting for the lion to enter its lair.
    Anybody involved in MOUT operations will tell you the defense always has the advantage:
    Add a few determined fanatics and things can really get interesting regardless of the civilian casualties, just google civilian causalities in Stalingrad or Berlin in WWII.
    The interesting aspect of this conflict is how little Hamas has responded back and how ineefective the Israeli air attacks have been against the rocket attacks, almost baiting the Israeli’s to launch an all out ground attack.
    The Col., hates quotes from Sun Tza, but this one is interesting: the worst policy is to attack cities.”
    Simple continue the fight against Israel with all means available to them.
    You can win by losing, if the World and Palestinian opinion is on your side.
    They are bunch of crazed fanatics, but obviously not as foolish and dumb as we think they are.
    And, go Fins!!!!!!

  10. Forgive this somewhat crude observation but the moment I viewed Mr. Begin emotionally defending illegal Israeli West Bank settlements because of ‘all the Jewish blood spilled in those hills’, I came to the firm belief that this part of the world would be screwed for the next 300 years. I also remembered telling a dear friend, circa 1992, that Israel would be near ungovernable within a decade. One assassinated leader later, who wants to challenge that position? There appears to be no other real consensus in this nation other than the desire to not be killed by terror attacks.
    Mad Dogs has this down to the essence. I understand that the IDF AF is trying to eliminate the centers of gravity in Gaza. The sophistication of tracking cell phone communications might lead them to continue to try to snuff out Hamas nodes with SDBs (small diameter bombs), hoping to limit collateral damage. And yet they continue to also emulate Bomber Harris’ failures in weakening the enemy. This isn’t as messy as Dresden but the publicity and ethical outcome is the same. Hamas is again invisible as the Arab media focuses on visions of torn humans, who had the unfortunate moment of being in the wrong place. Here in the U.S., CNN reports that most of the dead are Hamas policeman. And they intuited that how?
    In my ignorance, I can not remember a campaign of ‘get rid of these bad guys and we’ll stop bombing you into protoplasm’ ever working. (and, no, that wasn’t what happened in Iraq) And a land force that has minimal casualties as a core belief can only further the ham fisted approach of clubbing everything to dust.
    I can only hope that these people realize that even Sparta eventually succumbed. I’ve had that image of them for 40 years and see no reason to change it.
    Michael Chevalier

  11. Curious says:

    If Israel failed to decapitate Hamas now. They will have a very miserable life in the next 5-6 years.
    World public opinion is turning against Israel is very serious manner.
    Hamas doesn’t have to do anything except surviving.
    From strategy point of view, this is Hamas first real test of leadership. If they survive this attack, they are de facto force of Palestinian independence.

  12. JohnH says:

    What will Israel do when Hamas like Hizbollah, refuses to say ‘uncle?’ Ehud will have been deprived of the victory so critical to his election. And Israel will be embarrassed by not having been able to defeat and impoverished, starving people locked into a tiny geographic area. The illusion of detrrence will have totally evaporated. Palesinians will be lionized throughout the Arab world (but shunned).
    So what will Israel’s options be after it proves that it choke or beat people into submission? As Nir Rosen concludes, “There can be only one state in historic Palestine. In coming decades, Israelis will be confronted with two options. Will they peacefully transition towards an equal society, where Palestinians are given the same rights, à la post-apartheid South Africa? Or will they continue to view democracy as a threat? If so, one of the peoples will be forced to leave. Colonialism has only worked when most of the natives have been exterminated.”
    And will the international community watch silently and passively as one of the peoples gets exterminated? It’s a short step from a ‘humanitarian crisis’ to genocide.

  13. JohnS says:

    Laura Rozen posts this, in her blog War and Piece from“A well known Arab American analyst in Washington who asked to speak on background offered this analysis on the regional and domestic politics of the Gaza conflict from an Arab perspective:”
    Here’s an excerpt:

    There are two domestic agendas here. The Israeli one is very familiar… But what people are not asking and is at least as important: what are the f**** rocket firers hoping to do? … If you look at what people are saying, there is a disconnect between what Haniyah and people in Gaza are saying, and what Nasrallah and Meshal and regional actors say. … The Hamas leadership in Gaza is saying, we want a ceasefire on our terms. What Nasrallah and Meshal and Iran are saying: Egyptians, rise up … What’s missing in every analysis I see is that Egypt is the prize, the low hanging fruit …
    Sketch out the regional scenario: two unsympathetic forces hinged by Hamas. You have the Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraqi Islamist parties on the one hand, on one side of the hinge. … And you’ve got the Muslim Brotherhood regional project for overthrowing [moderate Arab regime] governments on the other.
    The hinge is Hamas. Because Hamas is a core member of Leninist-style collection of national Muslim Brotherhood parties. It is also the only Sunni member of the pro Iranian alliance because of the money it gets through Khaled Meshal. Hamas is a hinge, Syria is a hinge. You’ve got Meshal in Damascus who gets lots of money from Iran. Hamas is not neutral in the moderate Arab regimes vs. Iranian alliance rivalry.
    Both stand to benefit here. One project advances [unrest] in Egypt to the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood. And while that is not something to be overjoyed for for Nasrallah, it’s very helpful if it advances the Islamist agenda to destabilize your enemies…

  14. mo says:

    We really could be watching 2006 all over again.
    In fact, just to prove how predictable Israeli military strategy is, here is my prediction on the Israeli playbook.
    Start with an aerial campaign bombing each and every target that could conceivably be associated with Hamas and hope they cry uncle.
    But, if like Hizballah, they do not, and the “target bank” runs out, most likely tonight or tomorrow at the latest the Israelis will turn their bombing attention to Gaza’s “infrastructure”. Except Gaza is not Lebanon so there really isn’t that much infrastructure.
    Then the IAF will “accidentaly” strike a few civilian targets (a la Qana in 96 and 06) claiming that is where missiles are fired from/hidden, hoping the carnage will push the people to demand Hamas give in.
    If at that point Hamas still has not throw in the towel, there will be a few small scale “incursions” to test the Hamas defensive capability.
    And this is where the proof of the pudding will be. Hamas want the fight to be on the ground, like Hizballah did, because that is a playing field they can compete on. In fact Hizballah was waiting for the large scale Israeli push at the Litani in ’06. But Hizballah vastly over-estimated the Israeli infantry man and under-estimated the training they had given the village battalions and the small scale incursions were well so easily repulsed that it was the Israelis who were forced to start talking ceasefire.
    There are no village battalions in Gaza but then there are no Hizballah elites either. But, the destruction of Dahlans forces (who had recieved Israeli and Jordanian training) was so comprehensive that one has to wonder how much better they have become since they last fought the Israelis.
    Assuming that Hamas does not cave from the aerial assault (and I see no reason now why they would) we will most likely find out how good their foot soldiers really have become.

  15. isl says:

    As I recall, in the recent Lebanon war, Israel was only able to control territory a few miles past the border – basically the distance I stroll in 30 minutes, despite control of the air, all the armor, and three weeks of efforts. If Hamas has developed a fraction of that potential, a land invasion would be short term disastrous.
    Seems to me that the decision for “now” involved a lame duck, Bush in particular, US administration.

  16. Binh says:

    With Netanyahu ahead in the polls and elections in Feb. seem to me to be the reason for this, and less because of a real change in the balance of forces on the ground.

  17. J says:

    i scratch my head wondering just what the heck is israel’s ‘position’ regarding gaza and its inhabitants? is israel’s position to try and wipe them off the map? israel’s thugs that call themselves their idf have the means for pinpoint strikes, but why are they choosing the ‘collective punishment’ route like the german nazis did to the warsaw ghetto? israel’s civilian and military leadership need to face war crimes prosecution for their actions in gaza. just what is israel’s position regarding gaza and the palestinans as a whole? genocide perhaps?

  18. robt willmann says:

    Since one of the tenets (or is that spelled Tenet?) of the Israeli government is extensive disinformation, to figure out whether “news” stories containing dramatic statements are true or propaganda is not easy.
    One of the referenced articles refers to 15,000 “full-time” guerillas, “many” of which were trained –coincidentally — in Iran and Syria. Fifteen thousand is quite a few folks, especially when they are allegedly “full-time”. Now, “many” of the 15,000 are supposed to have been trained in Iran and Syria, wouldn’t you know it. But not, oddly enough, in Lebanon by that private, successful, homeland security militia known as Hizbullah, a group which has shown itself to be much more disciplined than, say, Blackwater.
    So, what is Hamas up to? Traditionally, the occupied Palestian territories have been shot through with informants and collaborators. Who knows if this applies also to Hamas. A hallmark of Hizbullah has been its cohesiveness and recruitment policies, which have allegedly made penetration of it difficult.
    Hamas might be holding back any counterattack or retaliation for reasons of public relations and public opinion because the more civilians Israel kills while making self-righteous comments repeated by media friends, the worse it looks.
    If Hamas has prepared, it might be waiting for the “invasion” of Gaza, in order to inflict casualties on Israeli soldiers as opposed to civilians.
    Or, maybe Hamas is not the ogre described in terms of fighting capability. I remember a friend who had been a tank commander under General Patton in World War II, fighting in North Africa and other areas, before volunteering for and surviving the Normandy invasion. I asked him before the first Iraq War in 1990-1991 about the Iraqi army, which had been built up in the media as being practically as powerful as the German Army in WW II. He laughed and scoffed at all that hype and propaganda, and described the Iraqi army in terms that ended up being correct in that conflict.
    But I suspect that Hamas is a more organized bunch than other Palestinian groups of the past. After all, it won an anointed democratic election!

  19. fnord says:

    Sir. My opinion is , I think, that this is a last cruel resonance of 8 years of ill ruling. CNN Europe is really following the Bush admin, they just put into action 9 anti-enviroment laws. You can now burn waste in the nearby river. F&*k me.
    I would like to offer a small prayer for a countryman of mine, Mads Gilbert and his communist surgeon team, who are as I write this going into Gaza ahead of a humanitarian corridor as I write. (The issue is blood-plasma, and security, and how far north, etc.). The Norwegian government have 3 truckloads of medical equipment arriving tonight, and more to come. 30 million set aside in emergency backupfunds. We do something, at least. Nationalist pride 😉
    Btw, check out abumuqawama.blogspot.com, its an interesting battleground.

  20. fnord says:

    P.S. What you have to understand, y`all , is that the population of Gaza is nearly 50% under 27. Can you imagine?

  21. Cloned Poster says:

    @fnord, Tippi does

  22. Penetration of HAMAS by sympathetic and battle hardened non-Palestinian cadres may be crucial determinant of outcome of this event. Be interesting to know at this point whether either side has predicted the run of events so far! Looks to me like intel failures on both sides.

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