Military analyst Elliot Chodoff thinks the IDF’s Gaza operation is an unfortunate waste of time:
The operation is a mix of intensification of existing tactics along with a massive insertion of infantry and armor into the areas surrounding Beit Hanun and Jebalya refugee camp. Both are hotbeds of terrorist activity, and sources of many attacks in the past, including suicide bombings along with the Kassam rockets. Insofar as the IDF has stepped up its campaign to eliminate terrorists, particularly the “middle management,” through direct attacks, either from the air or on the ground, it will succeed in reducing the effectiveness of the terrorist organizations. But the halfway measure of a ground incursion into Gaza, without actually hunting down and eliminating the terrorists and their infrastructure, as was accomplished in the West Bank during and after Operation Defensive Wall in April 2002, will prove to be a waste of time and resources at best, and politically and militarily detrimental at worst.
The IDF is correct in its natural reluctance to enter the Jebalya refugee camp. Jebalya, one of the densest populated areas in the world, represents the worst sort of nightmare of urban warfare imaginable. However, approaching the camp without entering it only demonstrates to the terrorists that they are safe from IDF attack inside the confines of their camps and towns and every successful Kassam launch during this period further reinforces that impression.. Given that the IDF will not remain in place around the camp indefinitely, the terrorists need only to bide their time and wait for the inevitable withdrawal before resuming the Kassam attacks. In addition, the stalemate resulting from the inconclusive operation is likely to instigate attempts to revive Arafat’s importance as he bills himself as the voice of moderation that can bring about a ceasefire and stop the Kassam launchings.
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