نتنياهو يستمر بعدوانه ومحاولات كيري لانقاذه تفشل
Israeli aggression on Gaza Continue
The Israeli Army is proving what the Monitor Analysis pointed out last week – that combat operations in urban areas are costly. As of this writing, 32 to 50 Israeli soldiers have died in the aggression on Gaza. The recent days of combat were the heaviest in terms of Israeli casualties since 1973.
Although the United Nations, the US, Egypt, and even Russia have offered their help, no truce is being considered at this time. Resistant leaders announced they were ready to accept a humanitarian truce, but would not agree to a full ceasefire until the terms had been negotiated.
The political situation in Israel also complicates the issue of a truce. It’s obvious the Israeli leadership has committed to a major war in Gaza and seeks to win it as soon as possible. However, the heavy casualties being suffered by the IDF is creating a strong desire by many Israelis to stop current operations.
Despite this, US officials are downplaying any hopes of a quick truce or settlement. US Secretary of State Kerry arrived in Israel on Wednesday to talk with Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders. He did meet with the UN Secretary General and PA President Abbas.
The reality is that Israel doesn’t want to stop operations if at all possible. They want the time to destroy the tunnels and track down some of resistance leadership. Meanwhile Palestinian fighters seem content to bleed the IDF with costly urban warfare.
Heavy Operations Continue
Little is known about Israeli operations, as the Israeli government has tried to keep much of the war secret. In fact, the major news that has come out has only been released as a result of heavy IDF casualties in certain operations. For instance, the loss of 18 by the Golani Brigade on Sunday was the main reason for identifying that operation. However, there are reportedly larger operations taking place.
There appear to be about five brigade sized combat teams operating in Gaza. In addition to infantry, these combined arms teams include armor and engineering teams to identify and destroy tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
Operations have become more intense this week as the IDF has moved from the more open areas of Gaza and into Gaza City. This, in turn has slowed the advance as engineering units are forced to destroy more buildings in order to allow the advance of the infantry and tanks. The IDF is also facing heavier fire from rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank weapons.
As mentioned in last week’s analysis, armored vehicles are easy targets in urban warfare. This has proven true, especially since the IDF has been using the obsolete American M-113 armored personnel carrier, which was proven to be very vulnerable during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. The M-113 APC has very light aluminum armor that is only effective against small arms fire and unsuitable for urban warfare. It was originally designed to be air mobile and is very vulnerable to RPG or anti-tank weapons.
This was proven to be true this last week as 7 IDF soldiers, including two Americans, were killed when they were engaged in street fighting against Palestinian fighters and the vehicle was hit by an anti-tank weapon. A similar attack in Gaza in 2004 led to the death of 11 Israelis.
The M-113 had been hit in the rear and on the side, which indicates that Hamas fighters are able to surround many of the Israeli units entering the urban areas.
Since the destruction of the M-113, 30 Israeli reservists have refused to ride the M-113 if they have to fight in Gaza. It was only after that that the IDF ordered all M-113s out of Gaza. In response to the attack, Sami Turgeman, the commander of the IDF Southern Command, said that the army was aware of the M-113′s faults but did not have the means to provide full protection to every soldier entering Gaza. Then, in a show of opportunism, the Ministry of Defense immediately asked for more money to buy newer APCs.
This successful attack against the M-113 highlights the fact that the destruction of buildings by IDF engineering teams, Israeli artillery, and Israeli aircraft have actually bogged down the pace of the IDF advance as Palestinians have been able to use the rubble for defensive positions. The IDF is also finding that the tunnel complex in Gaza is much more extensive and harder to defeat than planned.
“It’s like a metro, an underground” connecting weapons-manufacturing and storage sites to passageways beneath the Israeli border about 2 miles away,” Lt. Col. Lerner told the Wall Street Journal. “I would describe it as a lower Gaza City.” He said the army found openings in Shajaiyeh to 10 tunnel shafts leading to the underground network. The army entered the area with infantry, artillery and armored units, he said, expecting strong resistance.
These tunnels are forcing Israel to reconsider their current anti-tunnel capability. Britain’s newspaper The Telegraph reports, “the IDF’s elite Talpiot unit has been working on developing a tunnel detection system which was tested in Tel Aviv. Its costs are estimated to be $59 million. “The high-tech system, which uses special sensors and transmitters, is still in its R&D phase, and if all goes well, should be operational within a year”, notes a report on Israel’s I-24 news.”
“Another Israeli company, Magna, already provides defense systems for the Israel-Egypt border, as well as for the nuclear reactor sites in Japan. It proposes digging a 70-km tunnel along the Israel-Gaza border, equipped with a sensitive alert system.
This “will provide real-time alerts of any tunnel digging that crosses our tunnel, whether above or below it. The IDF will know exactly where the attack tunnel is and how many people are in it, and can monitor the progress of digging it in real time, and decide how to respond to the threat,” the company’s founder and CEO Haim Siboni told Israel’s Globes publication.”
Although pro-Israeli critics have lambasted the Obama Administration for what they perceived as a timid and distant from the Israeli government, there is little evidence to prove it.
Obama’s Federal Aviation Administration was criticized for telling US flagged airlines to stop flying into Tel Aviv’s airport after a rocket had landed nearby. However, many airlines were already stopping their Tel Aviv flights before the FAA had made their request.
There is another reason why the US government will be reticent to criticize Israel. Much of what Israel is doing in terms of air operations closely mirror what the Obama Administration is doing in its drone war. Last Saturday an American drone strike killed 11 people in Pakistan. Two days before, a drone strike had killed 15.
Ironically, the US follows the same rules that Israel follows but occasionally warned them of using excessive force. The Pakistanis didn’t pose an immediate threat to the US, civilians weren’t warned, and the US has shown no interest in a truce. Even worse, the US and Israeli drone war has a reputation of “double tapping” targets – hitting the target twice in order to kill people who rush to aid those injured in the first strike.
This leaves the US in an uncomfortable situation. Should they attack Israel’s tactics, they leave themselves open to criticism of their own tactics.
The US is also boosting military assistance to Israel. Israel has requested an additional $225 million in United States funding for the production of Iron Dome components and missiles. In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, U. S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hegel wrote that the Department of Defense “has reviewed and supports this urgent request.” This will increase Iron Dome funding by the US to more than half-a-billion dollars this year.
Despite the heavy losses by the IDF, it appears that Israel has enough support in the US to continue the war.
Hamas and the New Round of Fighting in Gaza: Both Sides are Escalating to Nowhere
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
July 17, 2014
The key question in any war – in starting it and throughout the conflict – is how will this war end? Ever since 1967, the answer in the case of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been by pausing and then resuming in a different form with the same result. In the case of the fighting in Gaza, changes in tactics and technology have simply escalated to nowhere. The best outcome has been an unstable ceasefire. The worst has been violence too low in intensity to be labeled another round of conflict. The initial cause in 2006, 2012, and now in 2014, has been a new attempt by Hamas to change the strategic facts on the ground – increasingly relying on rockets and missiles rather than irregular warfare in the form of ground or naval attacks on Israel. In each case, Israel’s decisive military edge has left Hamas (and the more extreme Palestinian Islamic Jihad) weaker than before, killed and wounded far more Palestinians than Israelis, prolonged the economic isolation that has crippled Gaza and reduced living standards and social mobility, and failed to have any meaningful political impact that benefited Hamas in making even limited strategic gains.
The Shi’ites of the Middle East: An Iranian fifth column?
By Michael Rubinabnd Ahmad K. Majidyar
American Enterprise Institute
July 18, 2014
As sectarian violence rages in Iraq and Syria and simmers across the broader region, the role of the Middle East’s diverse Shi’ite communities has become increasingly important for regional stability. Growing sectarian divisions present dilemmas to Shi’ite communities, regional Sunni rulers, and the United States, including how to preserve communal security and religious freedom while rebuffing outside forces — be they Sunni or Shi’ite — that might try to destabilize or undercut the independence of Shi‘ite religious communities. Iran’s apparent intervention in the ongoing crisis in Iraq highlights another quandary for American policymakers: how can America rebuff Iranian ambitions to speak on behalf of the diverse array of Shi’ite communities beyond Iran?
Five Myths About Hamas
By Nathan J. Brown
July 18, 2014
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks about Israel’s ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he says that “without action, the price that we would pay would be much greater.” But predicting how Hamas is likely to act and react requires probing what the organization can do, what it wants, and how it sees itself. From Hamas’s angle, the current fighting offers just as many opportunities as threats. Let’s examine five myths about the militant Islamist organization.
An Iranian-Turkish Reset
By Ilan Berman
American Foreign Policy Council
July 22, 2014
Earlier this summer, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani paid a very public two-day visit to a surprising locale: Ankara, Turkey. The June trip — the first of its kind in nearly 20 years — represented a significant evolution of the political ties between Iran and Turkey. In recent times, relations between Ankara and Tehran have been troubled on a number of fronts (from energy to Turkey’s role in NATO’s emerging missile shield). However, no issue has roiled ties between the two countries more than Syria. Iran, a longtime backer of the Assad regime in Damascus, has aided the Syrian government extensively since the start of the civil war there some 3 years ago. Turkey, meanwhile, has become a key source of political support (not to mention logistics and financial assistance) for the disparate opposition factions now arrayed against Mr. Assad — including extreme Islamist ones. These conflicting positions have deeply affected the health of ties between Tehran and Ankara over the past three-plus years.
Libya and Mali Operations: Transatlantic Lessons Learned
By Philippe Gros
German Marshall Fund
July 18, 2014
The Libya and Mali engagements were very different in nature and scope, but were bothequally rich in providing insightful lessons on the state of transatlantic and European defense cooperation. The operation in Libya was an implicit support to an insurrection and for regime change, while the objective of the operation in Mali was to liberate part of a country occupied by jihadists and to destroy their capabilities. Operationally speaking, the former was a typical air and naval operation and the latter air-land campaign, moresimilar in nature to the Iraq war in 2003 than to any other recent conflicts. However, these campaigns did share many characteristics regarding the configuration of Western coalitions, particularly in the Mediterranean and in Africa, with the backdrop of a decisive change in the nature of the transatlantic relationship marked by a relative U.S. fallback. This paper offers an analysis of some of the major lessons of each engagement regarding these partnerships, and draws a few key lessons and perspectives of this new strategic construct.
The Endgame in Gaza
By Aaron David Miller
July 22, 2014
Until I heard CNN’s weekend interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and watched Bloody Sunday unfold with scores of Palestinian civilian deaths and 13 Israeli soldiers killed, I thought I had the Gaza thing pretty much figured out. It would end — more or less — the way the two previous movies had concluded. In both 2008-2009 and 2012, Israel degraded Hamas’s high-trajectory weapons; but Hamas survived and restocked its arsenal with weapons of greater range, precision, and lethality. Hamas maintained control over Gaza and even derived a few political benefits in the process. Meanwhile, the people of Gaza continued to suffer — from both Israel’s unrelenting economic blockade and Hamas’s catastrophic mismanagement and fixation with its armed struggle against Israel. With the advent of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government in Cairo, intensified Egyptian pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood also pinched Gazans.
Turks in Europe and Kurds in Turkey Could Elect Erdogan
By Soner Cagaptay and Ege Cansu Sacikara
July 23, 2014
On August 10, Turks will go to the polls to choose a new president for the first time in the country’s history, an electoral change ushered in by a 2010 constitutional amendment. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the longtime prime minister and leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is on the ballot, as is Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, joint candidate for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Action Party (MHP). In the March 30 local government elections, the CHP-MHP bloc and the AKP each received 43% of the vote. This leaves two voter blocs as potential kingmakers in next month’s polls: Kurdish nationalists, whose Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) received 6.5% of the March vote, and Turks residing overseas, who will be allowed to vote abroad for the first time following a 2012 change to the electoral system.
Operational Wisdom amid Strategic Distress
By Alon Paz and Nadav Pollak
July 22, 2014
The current confrontation between Israel and Hamas could look at first glance like merely another military round between the two sides. However, a number of major differences, especially regarding Hamas’s regional isolation, its decade-long force buildup, and its development of military strategy and tactics, distinguish Israel’s Operation Protective Edge from past operations. Although it might be too early to derive strategic conclusions from the current operation, certain key points can already be noted as lessons for the future. Moreover, as other regional terror organizations seek to learn from this conflict, the task of analyzing Hamas’s actions from day one becomes even more crucial.
Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor
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