Only Decisive Action on the Ground, Not Precision Firepower from Afar, Can Defeat Israel’s Enemies

In its conflicts fought in the past two decades with Hamas in Gaza and Hizballah in Lebanon, the IDF has a used a strategy based on the combination of precision weapons with detailed intelligence. David M. Weinberg, basing himself on a recent, extensive report, argues that this doctrine has proved to be a failure, and calls for a return to the military principles that served the Jewish state so well in the first three decades of its existence:

In most clashes, a deleterious dynamic has repeated itself. At first, Israel successfully launches a salvo of firepower based on accurate intelligence gathered over a long period of time. Then follows a decline in the quality of targeting intelligence with an attendant reduction in the number of targets that justify a strike, and a recovery by the enemy and a continuation of its attacks against Israel.

Subsequent Israeli frustration leads to attacks on targets with high collateral damage or on useless targets, alongside an immense effort to acquire new quality targets, which can lead to an occasional success but does not alter the general picture. What follows is a prolonged campaign—leading to public anger and frustration—and a maneuver by ground forces that is not sufficiently effective to bring the enemy to the point of collapse.

Consequently, a return to combat along more traditional lines is inevitable in many cases. This means maneuvering into enemy territory, locating and destroying enemy forces (or capturing them, thus undermining the myth of the self-sacrificing jihadist “resistance”). Only this will break the spirit of the enemy.

Consider this, too: while no large conventional armies today threaten Israel, the situation could change. If a radical Muslim Brotherhood regime should rise in a country like Egypt, or if the Syrian army is rebuilt after that country’s civil war, the IDF must be ready. Bear in mind that building ground forces is a complex process that takes time. Neglecting IDF ground-maneuver capabilities is therefore a dangerous gamble.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: IDF, Israeli grand strategy, Israeli Security

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict