How Israel Got the Most Recent Gaza War Right

In the West, discussion of Operation Guardian of the Walls—Jerusalem’s official term for the latest round of fighting—has centered on the morality and legality of the IDF’s use of force. Since Israel struck over 1,000 targets, killing 160 Hamas fighters and fewer than 50 civilians—proportions unprecedented in the history of modern warfare—this question need not be particularly fraught. Israelis, by contrast, must ask themselves more complex and vital questions about the operation’s efficacy. Here, Akiva Bigman offers a useful comparison to 2014’s Operation Protective Edge:

During the 2014 military campaign, the IDF rarely bombed targets deep in the coastal enclave, focusing mainly on neighborhoods near the border. . . . The Israeli air force had to provide cover for ground forces destroying Hamas’s grid of terror tunnels, but Hamas’s home front—the towers housing its offices and the lavish homes in which top operatives live—was mostly untouched.

It was only as the conflict was waning, 50 days into the fighting and as a truce deal was being formulated, that several high-rises in Gaza were leveled.

Fast-forward seven years and Operation Guardian of the Walls was completely different. Almost immediately once hostilities erupted on May 10, massive airstrikes targeted significant Hamas assets: towers fell, luxury estates were demolished, vacation homes and hideouts were reduced to rubble and, most dramatically, Hamas’s flagship project—the strategic tunnel grid—was destroyed.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza, Guardian of the Walls, Hamas, IDF, Israeli Security

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine