Gaza’s new challenges: The drone onslaught that awaits Israel

By Elijah J. Magnier:

Amid escalating tensions, Israel finds itself in a state of war, driven not only by strategic objectives but also by the urgent need to restore its tarnished reputation. Recent events have dealt a blow to Israel’s image, and its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, now seems determined to retaliate by seeking some form of battlefield redemption. This quest, fuelled by a mixture of pride and geopolitics, is shaping the course of the conflict and could have lasting repercussions for the region. The anticipation of Hezbollah’s involvement in the ongoing conflict is palpable, and the nation’s political and military echelons are well aware of the looming threat. Israel has evacuated all northern settlements to pre-empt any surprises similar to those witnessed in the southern regions near Gaza. The skies are set to become a new battleground, with swarms of drones poised to join the fray from multiple directions, from Syria, Iraq and Yemen. As the situation intensifies, the rallying cry for a “Unity of the theatres” among the “Axis of the Resistance” supporting Gaza grows louder, signalling a united front on the horizon.

The border is buzzing with activity as military reinforcements converge from both sides, suggesting a significant confrontation may be imminent. Hezbollah’s recent rocket attacks, which targeted Radar Hill and the occupied Shebaa Farms and sent a resounding message domestically and internationally, have raised the stakes. Their message is clear: involvement in the Gaza conflict is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’. Both Hezbollah and Israel appear to be on the same page, preparing for what seems to be an inevitable showdown.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, seems to be on a different track. Unwilling to halt the ongoing conflict, acknowledge the setbacks or enter into negotiations over the prisoners, his stance may push the region closer to full-scale war. 

The ongoing conflict’s impact is deeply felt in Israel’s economic and social fabric. On a single tumultuous day, the Israeli stock market plunged by a staggering $13.5 billion, a sign of growing investor anxiety. Adding to the economic strain, the local currency has experienced a sharp decline.

But the impact isn’t limited to the financial charts. On the ground, there’s a palpable sense of desperation. A growing number of Israelis and foreigners are going to the civilian airport, eager to escape the rising tensions. Their urgency is heightened because many foreign airlines have suspended flights to and from Israel. This mass departure highlights not only the immediate dangers of the conflict, but also the more profound, lasting effects it may have on Israel’s social morale and economic resilience. The recent announcement of a US frigate’s support for Israel may seem significant. However, in the grand scheme of things, its impact on boosting Israeli morale appears minimal.

As the conflict intensifies, the recent deployment of a US fleet supporting Israel has attracted some attention. However, insiders within the Axis of Resistance have expressed scepticism about the real impact of this move.

While the arrival of a US fleet is a significant show of force, the strategic calculus of the situation is more complicated. Israel, with its already formidable air capabilities, has hundreds of aircraft and a powerful naval force. Adding 80 to 90 aircraft from the US carrier may not tip the balance as decisively as one might think. The Axis of Resistance argues that the US intervention won’t guarantee victory.

But the implications of this US military support go beyond immediate tactical considerations. There’s a wider geopolitical dimension at play. Any overt US intervention in the conflict could have repercussions far beyond Israel’s borders. The US maintains a significant military presence in Iraq, and these forces could become targets if the US is perceived as intervening too directly in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Resistance groups in Iraq have been unequivocal in their warning: US bases in the region would be at risk of retaliatory attacks.

Moreover, the Hezbollah’s supersonic anti-ship missiles adds another layer of complexity. These missiles, if deployed, have the potential to block Israeli ports, effectively choking off a vital lifeline and adding a naval dimension to the conflict. Such a move would further escalate the situation, potentially drawing in other regional players and expanding the theatre of operations.

The current conflict is deeply intertwined with the broader geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. Any move can have repercussions far beyond the immediate battlefield. The coming days and weeks will reveal how these dynamics play out and whether the region is on the brink of a more comprehensive and complex confrontation.

The sources also criticised Prime Minister Netanyahu’s approach, highlighting the targeting of civilian structures in Gaza, including the residences of leaders, media personalities and vital infrastructure. However, they believe that such anticipated destruction is merely tactical. They believe these actions will not weaken the resistance’s resolve or alter its strategic plan.

Israel’s recent military manoeuvres, including the deployment of troop carriers, tanks and ground forces, indicate a clear intention to launch a ground assault on Gaza. While the scope of this incursion may not be limited, reminiscent of the 2014 ground operation that only penetrated a few hundred metres into Gaza, its implications could be far-reaching.

In the face of these developments, the involvement of the Axis of Resistance alliance becomes crucial. The need for a united and cohesive multi-regional front is more urgent than ever.

Inside sources have highlighted the growing unity and strength of the ‘Axis allies’ in the face of the Israeli military. They argue that the Israeli army, which traditionally relies on air strikes to pave the way for ground operations, avoids direct confrontation unless areas are pre-emptively cleared with extensive bombing. The sources point to instances where Israeli forces withdrew, leaving behind their war equipment when Palestinian militants attacked their military barracks in the Gaza Strip encirclement.

Drawing parallels with the 2006 conflict, the sources suggest that the Israeli army may face determined and fierce resistance, similar to the combined forces it encountered in southern Lebanon after the initial heavy bombardment.

The message is clear: if Israel persists in its aggressive actions in Gaza, the united resistance bloc is ready to offer comprehensive support, possibly opening several fronts. This stance remains firm, regardless of threats from the West. Given the current dynamics, sources no longer rule out the possibility of a barrage of suicide drones entering the conflict launched from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The Palestinian resistance in the settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip remains unyielding. This continued defiance provides an insight into the apparent indecision and inconsistency of the Israeli army. On the one hand, they tell the 50,000 residents of the settlements to evacuate, only to later reverse this order and ask them to stay put closed indoors.

This inconsistency extends to the reported death toll. Initial reports from Israel put the death toll at 500, then 600, then 700, then 800. Such fluctuating figures suggest that Israeli forces haven’t been able to access all conflict areas. Their inability to quickly account for all casualties indicates a lack of control over several settlements, further underlining the challenges they face in the operational area around Gaza.

In a significant development on the first day of the assault, Palestinian forces made substantial inroads, advancing into Israeli camps and targeting the 8200th Intelligence Unit among other 11 military barracks. This unit, a linchpin of the Israeli intelligence apparatus, is directly linked to the Gaza Division Command and oversees drones that gather intelligence for Israeli targeting.

The successful attack on this unit, resulting in its destruction and the reported capture or elimination or escape of its personnel, has severely affected the Israeli military’s intelligence capabilities. This setback is evident in the Israeli army’s lack of actionable intelligence. It appears to have failed to anticipate or counter the resistance fighters who managed to capture Israeli soldiers and move freely in and out of Gaza even on the third day of the conflict. This breach underlines the resilience and strategic capability of the Palestinian resistance and the weakness of the Israeli army when faced with determined militants.

As things stand, Prime Minister Netanyahu is in a precarious position. The Israeli army, caught off guard by the resilience and strategic depth of the Palestinian resistance, appears to be in disarray. Netanyahu will probably need several days to recalibrate and reorganise his forces. This pause would ensure no resistance members remain outside Gaza, allowing for a more calculated ground assault.

But the element of surprise, a crucial factor in military operations, has already been lost. The Israeli forces are struggling with confusion, and accounting for their casualties looms large. Preliminary estimates put the death toll at between 800 and 1,000 Israelis. If these figures hold, the losses would exceed those Israel suffered in the Six-Day War of October 1967, when it faced a coalition of Arab nations. The comparison underscores the gravity of the current situation and the challenges Netanyahu faces in navigating the road ahead.

Israel’s relentless bombardment of civilians in Gaza, a region now engulfed in a fiery siege, suggests a grim forecast for the coming days. Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, has taken a tough stance in the ongoing conflict, confirming measures that include cutting off essential supplies such as electricity, food and fuel to the Palestinians. His controversial reference to Palestinians as ‘animals’ has further inflamed tensions and drawn sharp criticism.

While Gallant claims that the aim is to decimate Hamas’s military capabilities, the reality paints a different picture. Critical infrastructure, including ambulances and hospitals, have been targeted, and civilian homes have been demolished. Such actions raise questions about the proportionality and ethics of Israel’s military operations, as civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.

The sheer scale of the Israeli offensive underlines the huge disparity in military capabilities between the Israeli air force and the Palestinian militants. The latter are unequally armed and face an overwhelming adversary. This disproportionate use of force has reignited debates about the ethics and implications of such a one-sided conflict, as the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to rise. 

Furthermore, the Israeli military’s Hannibal Directive, a controversial protocol allowing the army to end the lives of its captured soldiers to prevent their abduction alive, has come under scrutiny in the ongoing Gaza conflict. Reports suggest that Israeli bombardments of Gaza have resulted in the deaths of four captured Israeli soldiers. In addition, six other soldiers captured by Palestinian militants on the third day of the conflict were killed while being transported into Gaza.

The Hannibal directive has long been a subject of debate and criticism, both domestically within Israel and internationally. The recent events in Gaza, where the directive seems to have been invoked, are likely to reignite discussions about its ethical implications and the broader consequences of such a policy in the context of warfare.

As the week draws to a close, speculation is mounting that a ground operation against Gaza is imminent and could start by the end of this current week. The enclave, already under heavy bombing, seems to be facing the prospect of intensified aggression. But the Axis of Resistance appears to be preparing for this significant showdown. Should the conflict escalate, Israel could find itself facing adversaries on several fronts. The possibility of a further spiral cannot be ruled out.

In the ever-changing landscape of the Israel-Gaza conflict, military strategists are constantly devising new tactics and strategies. One such strategy that has recently come to light, according to military planners, is the potential division of Gaza into two distinct parts. This move, if implemented, would see Israeli forces cut through the narrower region of Gaza, effectively splitting it in two.

There are many reasons for such a drastic measure. First, by establishing a physical presence in Gaza and dividing it, Israel aims to reassert its military dominance and restore its deterrent capability. Recent events have to some extent tarnished Israel’s image of invulnerability. By taking and holding ground in Gaza, the Israeli military hopes to send a clear message about its capabilities and resolve.

Secondly, the move is seen as a way of alleviating the sense of humiliation felt by some in Israel as a result of the ongoing conflict. By establishing control, even temporarily, over parts of Gaza, the Israeli military aims to project strength and resolve, both to its domestic audience and to the international community.

Finally, by maintaining a presence in Gaza, Israel could potentially use its position as a bargaining chip in negotiations. The eventual withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied parts of Gaza and the release of any hostages could be linked to specific concessions from the other side.

It’s important to stress, however, that this strategy is an extreme scenario. Such a move would undoubtedly further escalate the conflict, potentially drawing in other regional actors and leading to a wider and more protracted confrontation. The human cost of such an operation, both for Gazans and Israeli soldiers, could be considerable.

Moreover, the reaction of the international community to such a move would be unpredictable. While some might see it as a necessary step to restore stability, others might see it as a disproportionate use of force that would further complicate diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.

The course of this conflict depends largely on the decisions of the Israeli Prime Minister. Will he push the envelope and potentially draw in his American ally, busy fighting Russia in Ukraine? The Middle East is at a crossroads, with ominous clouds gathering on the horizon.

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