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Nov 15, 2012 | 22:37 GMT

Israeli Offensive in the Gaza Strip

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Israeli Offensive in the Gaza Strip

The Israeli military has emphasized that the goal of the current air campaign against the Gaza Strip is the severe degradation of Gaza militants' ability to launch rocket strikes, particularly the new Fajr-5 rockets that are purportedly capable of striking Tel Aviv. Halting rocket attacks was also the mission during Operation Cast Lead, Israel's most recent large-scale military operation involving Gaza, which took place in late 2008 and early 2009 and consisted of an air campaign similar to the current one followed by a ground invasion. The air phase lasted for about one week and targeted suspected rocket smuggling routes, storage locations and firing positions, as well as targets of opportunity that emerged as hostilities progressed. This is very similar to what Israel Defense Forces is doing currently, primarily with air assets but also assisted by naval and land assets capable of attacking from a distance. The second phase was the ground attack. This phase consisted primarily of two distinct geographic theaters within Gaza. In the southern theater, Israeli units moved in and set up blocking positions near Rafah and Highway 4 in order to cut Hamas' logistical supply lines running north toward Gaza City. Air and naval strikes were also used to enforce the border between Gaza and Egypt, where a strategically significant road known as the Philadelphi route is located. In the north, Israeli forces penetrated into the Gaza Strip to the north, northeast and slightly southeast of Gaza City itself. This served to isolate Gaza City and clear out initial rocket firing positions as well as defensive positions located in the immediate rural regions. After this initial move, follow-on forces were brought in to thoroughly search and clear identified enemy rocket launching sites, logistical hubs and command and control structures. Notably, Israeli forces did not venture deep into major population centers such as Gaza City and Rafah City to avoid the potentially higher casualties and more serious infrastructural damage associated with urban combat. If Israel launches a ground attack as part of its current operation in Gaza, we can expect the Israeli military to use similar tactics that have been refined even further over the past four years, but we must assume that militants in Gaza will not make the same mistakes twice and will use different tactics in order to inflict more damage on ground forces.

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Israeli Offensive in the Gaza Strip
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