One of the main questions being asked now about current events in Palestine It revolves around whether Israel will actually invade Gaza by land any time soon.
In this context, an article in the American magazine Foreign Affairs provides a summary of the aspects of street fighting and the difficulties that Israel will face if it decides to go ahead with the invasion.
According to the author of the article, Professor of International and Political Studies at the Australian University of New South Wales, David Kilcullen, street warfare represents a difficult tactical dilemma, as the combatant must secure every room, corner, street, and rooftop before moving to the next area, which requires huge numbers of forces and a large amount of personnel. Weapons on land, air and sea, and the results of this invasion will test the international community’s support for Israel.
The author points out that most of the conflicts that occurred in this century occurred in urban spaces such as cities Fallujah AndMosul AndGray Iraqi city Marawi Filipino, and my city Bakhmut And Mariupol, the Ukrainians, because wars take place where people live, that is, in the cities.
Because most people live on the coast, the urban battlefield includes land, sea and air. With the increasing range of long-range weapons possessed by armies, it has become possible to target inland areas by land with naval weapons, which means that ships can also be targeted using land weapons, which means that the Mediterranean Sea will be greatly affected by the invasion.
The writer says that urban combat consumes many military and human resources, and therefore specialists such as military planners, snipers, and medics are usually vulnerable to attack due to their importance. This type of combat also uses armored vehicles and infantry units to protect them, as well as artillery, mortar shells, and missiles.
This diversity allows for monitoring targets up close and from a distance, and creating an attack strategy that disperses the enemy and exposes his weak points. Planners aim to create a situation in which the enemy exposes himself to a type of weapon, such as marches from above while trying to avoid another threat, and such as confronting an infantry squad or a tank on the ground. But these plans are difficult to implement on the battlefield.
The article confirms that urban warfare occurs on land, in the air, and at sea. As for land, both soldiers and civilians participating in combat in urban areas face severe physical and psychological challenges, as the feeling of constant danger, fatigue, constant threat from all directions, and the terror of close combat as well, negatively affects the psychology and thought of the fighters, and battles are usually confusing and short, and often This includes clashes with targets within a close range of no more than 50 metres.
In the air, air strikes are used to attack and disperse the enemy, making them vulnerable to ground attacks.
Surveillance and reconnaissance by air and space sensors are also critical for maneuvering in crowded and complex urban environments.
Naval systems are also important as warships, aircraft carriers, drones and sea-launched missiles enable combatants to maneuver by sea outside the complex urban environment, and sea control also allows helicopter-borne amphibious forces to be landed in unexpected locations, destabilizing enemy defences.
The writer pointed out that both Hamas and Israel possess some or all of these naval systems. The Israeli Navy possesses fast attack boats, warships, and naval special forces, noting that the Israeli army has experience in urban warfare that it gained in Jenin in the West Bank in 2002, southern Lebanon during the war with Hezbollah in 2006, and the Palestinian territories.
Hamas also has elite units, which are naval special forces that led a naval raid on Zikim Beach in Israel on October 7, and seized a military base south of Ashkelon.
He pointed out that the events of October 7 began as a shocking and sudden attack, and it was not expected to escalate into a costly and long-term battle. The complex and dense urban environment in Gaza will make it difficult to understand what will happen to the ground forces, and Israeli army planners are concerned about the joining of other regional players, such as Hezbollah. In Lebanon or Iranian-backed militias in Syria, which could create a multi-front war, this could prompt Israel to launch a pre-emptive strike on regional players before entering Gaza, but such a strike would be a high-risk gamble.
Casualties among civilians
The ground campaign in Gaza also entails strategic risks, as the destruction of property, the killing of civilians, and the expulsion of residents – actions that many consider ethnic cleansing – may harm Israel’s moral legitimacy and reputation, and lead to the imposition of a political halt to the attack regardless of military progress on the ground, and we see an example of this in the Battle of Fallujah. The first was in Iraq in 2004, where a political decision was issued to stop American soldiers and marines, because the strategic impact of the loss of moral legitimacy could be severe for Israel and its allies, including the United States.
The writer commented that “the Israeli army initially aimed to separate Hamas fighters from civilians in Gaza, primarily to protect the population and identify legitimate targets, but it later became clear that this was difficult to achieve due to enemy forces that were often distributed among civilians who might be used as human shields.” “. IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari stated that Israel’s focus had shifted from precision in attack to damage and destruction to make Gaza an impossible base for Hamas.
He added that Israeli efforts aimed at encouraging civilians to leave through official crossing points or designated humanitarian corridors will not be completely successful based on what happened in Marawi in the Philippines and Mosul in Iraq.
The article concluded that all these factors indicate that a ground attack on Gaza is likely to be horrific, with dire consequences. But as every soldier knows, that may still be necessary, and it may begin very soon.