Analysis / Israel vs. Hamas: Time for War in Gaza

Israeli forces (Archive: IDF/CC BY-NC 2.0)

As Israel prepares to launch a ground assault in Gaza, the balance of power in the war is shifting. The initial attack was a great success for Hamas, but Israel’s military capabilities and firepower are increasingly dominating the battle.

Hamas no doubt improved its fighting abilities, and may prepare some tactical surprises for incoming Israeli forces. However, the next phase of the war will feature an entirely different dynamic than the opening stages. Consider the following:

  1. Hamas was able to coordinate a complex operation, keep it secret, and put it into action after years of planning. Some of this success was due to significant Israeli failures to detect and respond to the threat. As a result, Hamas faced limited resistance when it crossed into Israeli territory. However, much of the “success” was achieved in slaughtering civilians or outnumbered Israeli forces. Yet once the IDF regrouped, within 8-12 hours, the Hamas position deteriorated quickly.
  2. Recovered documents show that Hamas planned to engage in a month-long battle in Israel. Invading terrorists brought with them huge stocks of weapons and supplies. Yet none of these grand plans materialized. Within days, Israeli forces eliminated over 1,000 terror operatives and recovered all lost territory.
  3. Notably, the forces sent into Israel comprised the best Hamas fighters from its elite Nukhba force. Even with favorable opening conditions, they were quickly eliminated and destroyed. The conclusion: Despite improvements, Hamas remains an inferior fighting force incapable of coping with the IDF in full battle mode.
  4. As noted, going into Gaza, the IDF will likely face some setbacks and unexpected surprises. Yet two major elements that enabled the early Hamas success will be missing: Strategic surprise and numerical advantage. On October 7, insufficient Israeli defense lines were caught off guard by a much larger force. In Gaza, Israel will deploy massive forces who are fully alert and equipped with tremendous firepower. The balance of power on the battlefield will be entirely different.
  5. Israeli armor supported by infantry, special forces, and tremendous air power are almost certain to overwhelm Hamas. Gaza terrorists are expected to engage in fighting at some sites, rely on underground bunkers and tunnels, and in many cases avoid a battle and go into hiding. But they will not enjoy the advantages they did in their initial raid.

After suffering terrible carnage, Israel is now determined to destroy Hamas assets in Gaza and cripple the group’s fighting force. All preparations for a ground incursion are complete. Hamas will try to survive the assault and protect its top leaders, in the hopes of rebuilding later on. In any case, by the time the war ends, Hamas will likely have little to celebrate.