Netanyahu Rolls the Dice

The IDF appears to have launched its ground invasion of Gaza:

Israel’s war cabinet overcame a bitter rift to launch troops and tanks into Gaza yesterday – while Palestinians were left in a terrifying blackout as communications were shut off and Israeli warplanes unleased airstrikes on the strip.

Benjamin Netanyahu only agreed to press into the war-torn enclave after hostage talks with Hamas terrorists had collapsed and he had unanimous approval from senior ministers. He had previously refused to authorize an invasion as he rallied political support – angering military chiefs as their western allies began to call for a ceasefire, the Telegraph reported.

Now, the Jewish nation already have troops and tanks on the ground in Gaza as they ‘expand’ their military operation, with aerial bombardment overhead unleashing strikes of ‘unprecedented’ intensity into the burning region.

And those living in the besieged strip have been left in the dark as their electricity and communications were cut off – including that of struggling NGOs and emergency services.

‘Our troops and tanks are inside the Gaza Strip. They’re shooting and they’re operating,’ Major Nir Dinar confirmed to the New York Times.

Well, now we’ll find out if Hezbollah and Iran are all talk or not. As a general rule, IDF officers are trained to err on the side of aggression, and they assume that Arabs will usually run rather than fight. Their current training was shaped by the experience of their elders, who were described as follows by Col. Macgregor in his book Margin of Victory.

All of these men were tough task masters who trained their officers in unconventional ways. To compensate for the IDF’s small size, they emphasized individual responsibility, inventive tactics, and daring leadership. Their preference for demonstrated talent and guts over education and social standing infused the IDF with a degree of energy and imagination seldom seen in Western military organizations, which tend to reward longevity of service rather than performance. Only the youthful and dynamic leaders that rose to command inside the revolutionary armies of France in 1789 come close in comparison. Extensive combat experience against a known opponent—the Muslim Arab—translated into a strong preference for offensive action designed to surprise and unhinge the Arab enemy, a preference inextricably intertwined with the elasticity of mind that youth and imagination bring to warfare.

Margin of Victory, Col Douglas Macgregor

Israel’s political leadership is somewhat of a gerontocracy now, but one that possesses the advantage of actual military experience that is largely missing in the USA’s political leadership. But despite the tendency toward caution that tends to come with the years, any mistakes made by the IDF can be expected to fall on the side of taking excessive risks.

Only time will tell if this decision to engage in urban warfare is the correct call, and, as usual in the case of war, the decisions made by those parties that are not presently engaged in the conflict.

UPDATE: Some are saying it’s just a recon-in-force, but regardless, there isn’t any question that the infantry and armor are both in on the ground now.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military is “advancing through the stages of the war” in Gaza, with ground forces carrying out operations in the Strip.

“Infantry, armored, engineering and artillery forces participating in the activity, accompanied by heavy [air] fire,” he says, noting that “the forces are still on the ground and continue the fighting.”

He says no soldiers have been hurt in the expanded ground operation in Gaza so far.