Israel faces a likely bloodbath once the order to enter Gaza comes.
Gaza City offers plenty of hiding places for Hamas guerillas to open fire on Israeli army formations.
Israel has given a warning to at least 1 million civilians living in Gaza City to leave. U.S. President Joe Biden warned Israel to hold back on invading Gaza until the city had been completely evacuated.
Israel has mobilized 300,000 reservists.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that in a nationally televised address, “We have only started striking Hamas. What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”
Hamas showed through its bloodthirsty rampage through the kibbutzim and towns adjacent to Gaza that it is prepared for a savage kind of warfare. Previous wars in 2009, 2014, and 2021 were intense, but Israel never had to face an enemy using its own civilians as human shields. They likely are being held in parts of Gaza that are the most difficult for Israel to access.
CNN Reporter Recalls Gaza Combat with IDF
CNN reporter Ben Wedeman recalled being embedded with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 2009 operation. He recalled that Palestinian gunmen belonging to smaller factions including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) engaged Israeli troops as soon as they entered Gaza. They showed they could put up significant resistance.
“Israel’s tactics have always been to move fast, control as much territory as possible, but avoid street-to-street, house-to-house fighting where a weaker opponent can take full advantage of the terrain. Entering urban areas in Gaza, however, would bring in an entire new element to the fight,” Wedeman said.
Is the IDF Ready?
This likely will be the most intense house-to-house urban combat the IDF has faced since it invaded Beirut in 1982.
Former paratrooper Ben Rodin asked in a blog that appeared in the Times of Israel if the IDF is ready for the sort of intense combat that awaits them in Gaza City.
He notes that Hamas of 2023 is not the ragtag militia that it once was and that its Iranian trainers have learned the lessons of the Ukraine war and passed them along to their students.
He asks if Israel’s reservists are trained at countering the drone warfare that has become ubiquitous since Ukraine was invaded.
“We’ve seen time and time again that IDF flak vests that have been pulled out from emergency stocks are old and inefficient against not only bullets but even shrapnel from mortars and rockets. We need to demand from the IDF generals that every soldier that is entering into the Gaza Strip has a full kit of protective gear that includes: Ceramic vests, modern combat helmets, night-vision goggles, and first aid kits,” Rodin wrote.
New Israeli APC To Be Deployed
The Israelis will deploy the new Namer (Leopard) heavy armored personnel carrier, a variant of the Merkava tank minus the turret. The APC offers troops protection rivaling the latest main battle tanks. It is the most heavily armored APC in the world. Each Namer carries up to 12 personnel.
It contrasts with the thinly armored Vietnam-era M113 APCs that Israel took into battle previously and were easily destroyed by similarly Vietnam-era RPG-7s.
“Israel has advanced Merkava tanks and Namers APCS many of which have the “Windbreaker” anti-rocket and anti-missile defense system. A question we need to be asking ourselves is, how many of our vehicles inside will be equipped with these? If we are lacking these anti-missile defensive systems we also need to be asking ourselves what can be done for rapid installation into all possible vehicle platforms? Can the arms industry of Israel bring the production lines to full capacity to churn out as many as possible?” Rodin asked.
Which Battle of Fallujah Will the IDF Fight?
The 2023 Battle of Gaza City could resonate for generations in several ways. A) It could turnout like the First Battle of Fallujah in April 2004 in which the U.S. Marines found themselves overwhelmed by jihadists in the toughest fighting since Vietnam and lost due to lack of training B) It will be like the Second Battle of Fallujah the following November in which the jihadists were routed by the Marines.
Either way the battle will be remembered as a victory for one side or the other. If the IDF is not prepared for urban combat it could get ugly real quick and show Tehran that Israel is weak and embolden it further. If the IDF routs the terrorists, it could send the message to Tehran that even its best training is not enough.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.