How the IDF Sacrifices the Element of Surprise to Save the Lives of Gazan Civilians

That there is something especially cruel or horrible about Israel’s war against Hamas—distinct from the horrors brought about by all wars—is widely believed, even, it seems, by many Jews. But, as a matter of fact, writes John Spencer, what makes this war unusual are the extraordinary lengths the IDF has taken to protect the lives of enemy civilians. He adduces much evidence, but this is the crux:

The predominant Western theory of executing wars, called maneuver warfare, seeks to shatter an enemy morally and physically with surprising, overwhelming force and speed, striking at the political and military centers of gravity so that the enemy is destroyed or surrenders quickly. This was the case in the invasions of Panama in 1989, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003, and the failed illegal attempt by Russia to take Ukraine in 2022. In all these cases, no warning or time was given to evacuate cities.

In many ways, Israel has had to abandon this established playbook in order to prevent civilian harm. The IDF has telegraphed almost every move ahead of time so civilians can relocate, nearly always ceding the element of surprise. This has allowed Hamas to reposition its senior leaders (and the Israel hostages) as needed through the dense urban terrain of Gaza and the miles of underground tunnels it’s built.

These measures were effective. Israel was able to evacuate upwards of 85 percent of the urban areas in northern Gaza before the heaviest fighting began. . . . Israel’s opponents are erasing a remarkable, historic new standard Israel has set.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Laws of war

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7