Bill Roggio provides must-read analysis of the Israeli ground offensive at The Long War Journal. Apparently, the IDF has learned from its mistakes in Lebanon in 2006:
The Israeli Defense Force was able to negate Hamas’ prepared anti-tank defenses by moving infantry ahead of its armored units to clear the tank traps. Hamas is said to have prepared anti-tank bunkers and mine fields to blunt an armored spearhead as it moved through the densely populated urban areas of the Gaza strip.
The deployment of infantry ahead of the Israeli armor also prevented Hamas forces from laying ambushes. On the first day, Hamas was relegated to lobbing mortars at Israeli forces during the initial ground assault.
Israeli troops have trained for urban combat in Gaza for over the past year, The Jerusalem Post reported. All of the units in the Gaza operation have cycled through the IDF’s Ground Forces Command Urban Training Center. "There, the IDF has built a mock-Palestinian city where the forces train on operating in populated areas," the Israeli paper reported.
The urban warfare training will be needed. Fighting has intensified over the past 24 hours, according to reports from Gaza. Heavy, close-quarters street fighting has been reported in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. To the west, Gaza City is partially surrounded.
The Israelis have publicly said their goal is to stop Hamas from firing missiles into Israel and destroy terrorist infrastructure, but the emphasis on urban warfare makes me wonder if there isn’t another, largely unspoken goal: to force Hamas into a standup fight in order to kill as many Hamas fighters as possible. Dead terrorists can’t fire rockets, after all.
Longer-term, something will have to be done about the Islamic fear society that dominates Gaza (and elsewhere) but, for now, beating Hamas to a bloody pulp in order to protect her own people might be the best Israel can do.