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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

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

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy