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Israel Is Succeeding in Gaza

Andrew Fox
Tablet, May 22, 2024

“The IDF has absolutely no intention of using the clear-hold-build COIN tactics the West tried in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those tactics were an unmitigated disaster in both campaigns, which ended in humiliating defeats at the hands of technologically inferior armies.”

As the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducts another assault in the north of Gaza, they face significant criticism from Western officials and analysts who are asking why the IDF is repeatedly going into areas they have already cleared and conducting further operations. Critics claim this behavior reflects a flaw in operational design, or is even proof that Israel’s campaign against Hamas has failed. The flaw, however, lies in their own assumptions.

These critics are looking at IDF tactics through the lens of Western counterinsurgency (COIN), the doctrine that U.S. and European militaries applied in the failed campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the “global war on terror,” Western tactics were to seize a chunk of territory and clear it of enemies through military force. The plan was then to hold the territory through forward operating bases (or FOBs) and try to conduct alternative governance in those areas while providing security. The system of FOBs meant that our enemies, embedded in the local civilian population, always knew where we were and what routes we were likely to use. They could mortar, rocket, and IED us at will. It was a recipe for endless violence and huge numbers of casualties.

In the case of the 2023-24 Gaza war, Western critics have almost comically misunderstood what the Israeli military is trying to do. The flaw in Western analysis is always the same: “We wouldn’t do it that way.” Yet the IDF has absolutely no intention of using the clear-hold-build COIN tactics the West tried in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why would it? Those tactics were an unmitigated disaster in both campaigns, which ended in humiliating defeats at the hands of technologically inferior armies. … [To read the full article, click here]

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