5 Tactical Challenges For Israel As Its Troops Prep To Enter Gaza Strip

5 Tactical Challenges For Israel As Its Troops Prep To Enter Gaza Strip

Israeli forces fire a self-propelled artillery at Hamas positions in Gaza Strip

New Delhi:

Israeli ground forces are ready to enter Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places in the world, to fight the Hamas group that launched a massive terror attack on Saturday. Over 1,200 Israelis died in the terror attack and 1,500 Hamas fighters have been killed in the Israeli counterattack. At least 1,300 residents of Gaza Strip have died in Israeli airstrikes that flattened several large building into heaps of rubble.

The Israeli army today said it is ready for the ground assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but the country’s political leaders had not yet taken a decision.

“We are waiting to see what our political leadership decides about a potential ground incursion,” army spokesman Richard Hecht told journalists, news agency AFP reported.

If the Israelis roll into Gaza Strip with a mechanised infantry force along with air support from attack helicopters, a fierce form of urban warfare will break out on the narrow streets and lanes of the seaside area, where the population is a huge 5,500 people per square kilometre (sqkm) compared to Israel’s 400 people per sqkm.

Tactical challenges for Israeli ground forces in Gaza Strip

  1. Buildings in Gaza Strip stand densely due to lack of space for such a huge population. The streets are narrow. It would be even more difficult for armoured personnel carriers (IFVs), infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and tanks to navigate in Gaza Strip due to debris on the road from bombed out buildings.
  2. Booby traps in small spaces pose significant risks for Israeli troops, who will need to enter, verify, neutralise and clear buildings of Hamas group one at a time. Sniper attacks may come from any direction in Gaza Strip’s maze of tall buildings that have small, dark windows.
  3. The war in Syria and Ukraine have shown that a larger mechanised infantry force can be badly hurt by small teams using anti-tank guided missiles and rocket propelled grenades (RPGs)
  4. Inserting troops with helicopters will be risky as Hamas may have man-portable air defence system (MANPADS). Even unguided RPGs can be dangerous if the troop-transport helicopters fly too low. Two US helicopters were shot down in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 while flying low and fast over the densely populated Somalian city, an incident that came to be known as “Black Hawk Down” in the media.
  5. Limiting collateral damage and civilian casualties will be a major challenge if Israeli troops enter Gaza Strip for an all-out assault.

Fears have grown for Gaza’s 2.4 million residents now enduring the fifth war in 15 years in the long-blockaded territory, which has also seen Israel cut off water, food and power supplies. Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz vowed that the total siege of Gaza would continue until nearly 150 Israeli hostages are freed.

“Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electric switch will be turned on, no water tap will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home,” he said in a statement.

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