NewsTank columns ready to attack. There will be hell in the Middle East

Tank columns ready to attack. There will be hell in the Middle East

A grouping of Israeli armored vehicles near the border with the Gaza Strip.
A grouping of Israeli armored vehicles near the border with the Gaza Strip.
Images source: © PAP | HANNIBAL HANSCHKE
11:24 AM EDT, October 21, 2023

After two weeks of heavy air raids, the Israeli army, Cahal, is preparing for a land operation in the Gaza Strip. Israel's leaders are talking about weeks, even months of fighting. The Palestinians promise strong resistance. Both sides are preparing the future battlefield, hoping that it will be the enemy who bleeds.

Since October 7 - the outbreak of war and the deadly attack of Palestinian factions led by Hamas on Israel - thousands of tons of air bombs have fallen on the Gaza Strip.

Israel aims to destroy the armed factions in the coastal enclave. It intends to do this so that for the next few decades they would not be able to threaten the Jewish state with either rocket fire or, even more so, with a massacre that on the first day of the war took the lives of more than 1400 Israelis, mostly civilians.

Northern Gaza turned into a gigantic bunker

Israeli F-16 and F-15 aircraft, with 2,204-pound precision JDAM bombs, demolish building after building, turning entire blocks of houses into rubble, mainly in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

All identified targets related to Palestinian organizations involved in the war are being destroyed. These include not only military targets, weapon production facilities and warehouses, command centers, underground tunnels, and firing positions, but also the financial and civilian infrastructure supporting Hamas. Drones and helicopters are hunting down specific civilian and military leaders of these organizations.

The Palestinians are unable to stop the air raids, having only a few, therefore very valuable, handheld anti-aircraft missiles. Anticipating a ground attack, they even limited the shelling of Israeli cities, to intensify it again when the IDF enters the enclave.

Since the beginning of the war, Palestinians have fired 8-9 thousand missiles, which are no longer makeshift rockets. Most of them are indeed produced in the Gaza Strip, but based on technological solutions and using advanced parts smuggled from outside. Israel accuses Iran and North Korea of these supplies.

Palestinians often launch several dozen, sometimes over 100 rockets simultaneously, which allows single missiles to penetrate the Iron Dome, an air defense system, even when - as the Israelis claim - this system can intercept 9 out of 10 rockets.

The fate of the war will, however, be decided in the narrow alleys of northern Gaza, where - according to Israeli intelligence - entire districts have been transformed into fortresses with fortified and interconnected tunnel resistance points. Moreover, the area is likely mined, and the history of such conflicts shows that entire buildings are sometimes turned into gigantic traps filled with explosives.

There's a high probability that thousands of armed defenders from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other organizations are waiting for the attackers. The number of these organizations is estimated between 40 to even 70 thousand. Palestinians are equipped not only with light or sniper weapons but also with Kornet anti-tank guided missiles. Israelis recently discovered that the most modern Iranian rocket missiles, specially produced for the destruction of Cahal vehicles, have reached Hamas.

The battles will be long and hard

Recognizing the danger, Israelis try to prepare the battlefield in advance as much as possible from the air. Their method of warfare involves pushing and surrounding the enemy with infantry and tanks in a relatively small, specific area, known as a kill box, and then breaking it up with the use of aviation and artillery.

In this case, it will be the city of Gaza and the towns to the north and east of it. For this reason, the Israelis are trying to convince the civilian population to leave the northern part of the Gaza Strip. This would deprive Hamas of human shields, whose death would cause outrage around the world and increase pressure on the government in Jerusalem.

Since the beginning of the war, the Israelis mobilized approx. 360,000 reservists, so the forces of Cahal probably now exceed half a million soldiers. A significant part of these troops guard the border with Lebanon in the north and operate on the West Bank of Jordan.

For obvious reasons, Cahal does not reveal what forces he intends to use in the Gaza Strip, but he will undoubtedly have numerical superiority over the Palestinians. Moreover, the battles will primarily involve Merkava Mk. 4 heavy tank battalions, equipped with the active Trophy armor, designed to shoot down incoming missiles.

The burden of the fighting will traditionally fall on the motorized infantry brigades backed by an artillery corps. For the first time in battles around the Gaza Strip, Israelis are using not only modernized self-propelled M-109 guns of caliber 6.1 inches, but also rocket artillery.

At the forefront of the advancing troops, armored and sometimes remote-controlled bulldozers are likely to appear, whose task is to create safe communication paths, which often requires the demolition of buildings and tearing up street surfaces, in which bombs are hidden.

Looking at previous conflicts in the Gaza Strip, it can be expected that in the first phase of the ground campaign, the Israelis will take over open areas in the north and east of the enclave, and will want to break through to the Mediterranean Sea in one or two places, dividing Palestinian territory into two or three parts.

Only then will they decide to attack districts of cities weakened by air raids and fortified. Despite the numerical advantage, in the air, heavy equipment, and the latest technology, Cahal will not accomplish the task set before him, which is the physical destruction of Hamas, without bloody battles in urban areas. Despite this, Israeli commanders have already appealed to politicians not to order them to leave Gaza until the goal is achieved.

This approach means long, hard battles, massive losses on both sides, and above all, immense suffering of more than 2.2 million civilians who won't be able to leave the war zone or will be doomed to many months of vegetating and depending on humanitarian aid in the south of the Gaza Strip.

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