Israel’s Coming Attack on Gaza: Boundary Conditions and Delay

Since there are a raft of unknowns with Israel’s next steps in and what sort of fallout that might trigger, it makes sense to step back and see if we can infer anything, even at a very general level, from known or presumed boundary conditions.

Israel is committed to a ground invasion of Gaza. It has also doubled down on its stated aim of destroying Hamas in rejecting UN calls for a ceasefire.

The invasion of Gaza and the intent to destroy Hamas appear to be political aims, since the former will be extremely costly, particularly in soldiers’ lives to a casualty-averse IDF, and the elimination of Hamas is not attainable. The point Alex Christoforu made in his show today, that the US with its much greater resources, has not been able to eliminate Al Qaeda, is confirmed in a Financial Times comment, Israel must know that destroying Hamas is beyond its reach.

Many military experts, including former Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, Douglas Macgregor, and Scott Ritter, have warned that it will be very difficult for the IDF to engage in this kind of urban clearing operation, particularly given its scale versus the IDF’s limited experience and the largely reservist status of the majority of its forces. Foreign Affairs, the premier US foreign policy publication, just released a grim prognosis in How Will the IDF Handle Urban Combat?Fighting Hamas in Gaza Will Be Difficult and Costly. Key sections:

A potential ground assault into Gaza…would entail horrendously difficult tactical conditions, including room-to-room combat and tunnel warfare that would lead to massive casualties. It would require fighting on the ground, in the air, and at sea—fighting that must be done in a carefully synchronized fashion. Combat will be slow and grinding, and the resulting devastation will almost certainly test international support for Israel’s invasion…

Urban combat is slow, grinding, destructive, environmentally devastating, and horrendously costly in human life—especially for civilians. It involves house-by-house, block-by-block fighting that soaks up troops and firepower in enormous quantities, as every room, street corner, rooftop, sewer, and basement must be secured before the next can be taken. Such combat is particularly dangerous for junior combat leaders, who must constantly expose themselves in order to see, communicate with, and command their soldiers…

…for soldiers and civilians in the midst of urban fighting, the danger, the fatigue, the sense of perpetual threat from every direction, and the horror of close-range hand-to-hand combat all take an immense physical and psychological toll. Battles tend to be confused, fleeting (measured in seconds), and short range, with targets often closer than 50 yards. Troops may be focused on the house or room they are fighting in, but at the same time they may also be targeted from a distance by mortar crews, snipers, and drone operators.

There is a lot more along these lines.

Several points seem noteworthy. First, as is evident even from this short extract, Foreign Affairs acts as if a ground operation is not a given, when there are reports of large numbers of Israeli tanks and troops newly positioned nearby and more expected. Second is that it bangs on about the findings of “NATO researchers” and of creating a “combined-arms effect.” As we saw in Ukraine, forces trained to supposed NATO standards were found by the Ukraine military to perform less well than ones that used what NATO derided as more primitive approaches better suited to battle conditions.

Third, and perhaps most important, this article does not give much consideration about how the extensive Gaza tunnel system vastly complicates this operation. Readers are welcome to correct me, but my strong impression is that not only has there never been a clearing operation in this large a setting, there has also never been one that has had to contend with such an extensive tunnel system.

The IDF may be correct in its belief, or one might say hope, that bunker busters can destroy most if not all of it and also detonate stored munitions. There was alleged evidence of that happening, with Jacob Dreizen posting a video of a presumed bunker buster then producing successive explosions from below ground a meaningful distance from the strike site.

It may be that most of the tunnels can be destroyed by arial bomb and it’s simply a matter of systematically wrecking them. But Iran has massive and deeply buried command centers and operations. Hamas would presumably have sought and received advice on how to build and fortify its tunnels to resist bunker bombs.1 Whether Hamas got very far with any such effort will be revealed in due course.

Another tunnel matter is how much Hamas has stockpiled and whether, even after round of bunker-busting, there are enough tunnels to Egypt that survive and are well-enough connected to other surviving tunnels under most of Gaza to allow Hamas members and their supplies to move about readily enough to allow them to continue indefinitely, or at least for an unseemly long time. A sometimes stated assumption on the Israel side is that they can starve Hamas out and force them to leave the tunnels, as happened with the Azov Battalion forces that retreated to the extensive basement system underneath the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol.

What does the delay in launching the ground operation portend? Some theories, which are not mutually exclusive:

The politicians and the military are arguing with each other, and senior members of the military are also debating how to proceed. Perhaps Hamas will be revealed to be a paper tiger. But if not, victory, even if defined as clearing Gaza (as opposed to destroying Hamas) looks set to be Pyrrhic.

The IDF is waiting to get US men and materiel in place. With Iran having promised to Do Something in the event of an assault on Gaza, the bigger the threat display, the better. The IDF and the US appear to be erring on the side of assuming that Hezbollah and Iran are loath to escalate. That may not be as true as they believe.2

The US is trying to curb Israel. Mind you, that sort of message is not coming from where it really counts, Biden or Blinken, but enough US military men may be worried enough to do what they can to throw sand in the gears. Consider this new story from the Financial Times, Fears grow that Israel has ‘no plan’ agreed for postwar Gaza:

But about two weeks after Hamas’s devastating attacks, there remain many unresolved questions over Israel’s exit strategy and postwar goals. The US has directly raised its concerns with Israel, according to sources close to the process. The lack of an exit plan is one factor in the delays to the Gaza ground operation that has long been threatened by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

“There is no plan for the ‘day after’. The [Israeli] system hasn’t decided yet,” said one person familiar with Israeli thinking. “The Americans went crazy when they realised there was no plan.”

In what were described as probing conversations with Israeli officials, US officials have encouraged their counterparts to think about how to achieve their military aims should the original plans fail, and to imagine the day after….

Several people close to the Israeli planning process described a frantic effort to establish clear war aims, develop realistic post-conflict scenarios, and agree them across the military and civilian leadership….

One recurring theme in the proposals is avoiding an open-ended Israeli reoccupation of Gaza, a narrow coastal strip that is home to 2.3mn people. Israel withdrew from the enclave in 2005.

Another is the need to strengthen the Palestinian Authority, which may be called upon to reassert control in Gaza even though it is considered to be a weak institution that lacks credibility among Palestinians…

A third element in planning is the potential for Arab states including Egypt and Saudi Arabia to play a direct role, including possible financial and peacekeeping support in Gaza.

The delay is deliberate, to starve out Gaza. Israel’s sabotaging of humanitarian convoys (bombing the roads at Rarah, allowing only a pathetic 20 trucks in, now refusing to allow fuel in and assuring the shutdown of hospitals) is a facet of Israel’s announced policy of collective punishment. Perhaps some in the government rationalize this conduct by hoping that enough suffering in Gaza will force Egypt to relent and admit a large number of refugees. But the international community is instead increasing its calls for a ceasefire and serious humanitarian relief.

It looks instead as if too many are shying away form the logic of Israel’s actions. They want to empty Gaza. That is why they have no post war plans. There’s no need to worry about post-Gaza governance if all the Palestinians have been removed.3

So tarrying with the ground operations as the Gaza citizenry dies of dehydration4 has a certain logic. The IDF is not wrong in being concerned that nominal civilians can easily serve to advance a guerrilla war, such as kids planting mines. It reduces the need to waste shells to destroy buildings. Experts like Scott Ritter have argued that more rubble is more favorable to defenders, since it offers more places to hide, makes it harder to deploy armored vehicles, and could blunt the impact of bunker busters. Conversely, keeping as much of Gaza’s roads open will help the invading force.

Delaying a Gaza invasion while refusing to let supplies in also theoretically puts of triggering a Hezbollah and potentially Iran action, although Iran has cleared its throat and said too much mistreatment of Gazans would also be a red line.

So yours truly has to wonder if the sudden intense messaging about how hard an invasion will be, and how the Israels and the US are in a dither over how to proceed, is a case of “the lady doth protest too much.” Even if these accounts are substantially true, broadcasting them would seem to be to the detriment of Israel’s operations. Perhaps it is intended to depict the Israel and its allies as in disarray so as to misdirect Hamas and its potential backers and mask a blow that is coming in days. Or perhaps it instead is to mask the monstrousness of Israel’s true plans, which are not hard to infer given its persistent obstruction of humanitarian relief.


1 Some have asserted that Gaza is on sandy soil that would facilitate the use of these super duper munitions. Based on a quick look, Lambert found the “sandy soil” story to be wrong:

We’re not talking granite, but it’s not sand and dirt either

Gaza Strip region has a substratum of Tertiary limestones, calcareous sandstone marls, clay and marine diluvium. Partially fossilised dune sand deposits cover wide stretches of land. These dune sands are often cemented by calcareous sediments and cemented infiltration, and form therefore compact masses of hard rocks.

Found map (“geology.png”).

It’s hard to read (I’m assuming yellow has faded) but it looks like Gaza City area is on “Pliocene Marine”

2 In addition, by virtue of proximity, Hezbollah almost certainly has escalation options short of invasion. How might it turn up the heat?

3 If worse comes to worse, when Israel finally secures the surface, it can flood, gas [who would be the wiser?] or use thermobaric bombs on the tunnels.

4 Starving to death can take a while. For instance, in the case of Bobby Sands, it took 66 days.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Duncan Hare

    The Israelis will probably have to come in Shooting all the way, killing all to occupy Gaca. While Some may support this action, the intranational; Repercussions would make Israel a e pariah state – except the US would differ and never punish Israel thus.
    Some Israelis I have met firmly believe that extermination is the only option.

    Why I’d be told this I do not know. The statement and affect made me chock on my beer, which was a serious waste.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Extermination of who? That’s a blade that obviously has points on both ends, and no handle in evidence.

      Be careful what they wish for.

      1. Feral Finster

        Such people are confident that as long as their American gorilla will come to their aid, they will get to be the SS and not the persecuted forever.

        1. hk

          SS didn’t exactly come out the winner, fwiw… (Or maybe it did, looking at the Baltics, Ukraine, and Croatia…)

          1. i just dont like the gravy

            The SS who were able to escape and become assets in Latin America for the CIA beg to differ.

            1. Candide

              This factor is an underappreciated reality when people ask “how could this possibly be happening”

              Others besides the SS have specialized and developed ability to offer services to displace AfroColombian communities and assassinate leaders.
              What a surprise for partners in crime to cover for each other at critical moments like this, bringing us (the public) along as a cheering section.

      2. Merf56

        It is crystal clear the plan is to exterminate every man, woman and child in Gaza.
        After which, they will also encourage a provocation in order to do so to every man, woman and child in the West Bank.
        Why are we all dancing around this?
        It has been the goal from 1948 and the entity has made no secret of this fact.
        Further, Bennie Nets has seemingly decided he will be the one to enact the ‘final solution’ and will do with the full throated support, encouragement and weaponry of the United States of America.

  2. caucus99percenter

    Poison gas in the tunnels, yes, who would be the wiser?

    I can also imagine Israel using something like a neutron bomb to kill most of Gaza’s inhabitants.

    Whatever Israel does, at this point I fully expect it to be diabolical.

    1. nippersdad

      One would have to think that some of the corpses coming out of those tunnels would be examined by a pathologist. If they go the poison gas route, there will be no end to the correlation with Nazi concentration camps and Zyklon B. The “Final Solution” meme is already out there, that is something that they could not survive, even here, and that is why I think it unlikely.

      If they are going to flood those tunnels with something, it would most likely be water pumped from the Med.

      1. turtle

        If they are going to flood those tunnels with something, it would most likely be water pumped from the Med.

        Right, I read a comment somewhere recently that they have flooded some of the Gaza tunnels with ocean water in the past, causing water sheet and agricultural problems in the process.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The only problem there is that if they do that, then they will be killing all those hostages themselves and although Netanyahu would likely not care, the blowback on that would be epic in Israel for that one.

      2. ISL

        limestone geology is prone to caves. Such caves would likely connect to the sea.

        No idea if there are, but hope is not a plan.

    1. Kouros

      Strenghtening the assertion in the article:
      “It looks instead as if too many are shying away form the logic of Israel’s actions. They want to empty Gaza. That is why they have no post war plans. There’s no need to worry about post-Gaza governance if all the Palestinians have been removed.”

      Which I think is the most salient thing to consider. Israel is dithering because of this massive opportunity and they don’t want to miss it so are waiting for the stars to align.

    2. everydayjoe

      Sadly Palestinians were always “expendable” it seems. Zia ul Haq ( ex President of Pakistan) was the mercenary hired by Jordan when he bombarded Palestinian refugees andkilled 20000.
      Saudi Arabia could play a big role here and wont probably because they are shia while Palestinians are sunni .
      What happens in gaza will be forgotten soon sadly.
      A glimmer of hope is that due to social media/smart phones there is spread of information( real and false) which was not the case during 2004 Invasion of Iraq.
      Black lives matter and similar have latched on to the struggles of Palestine it seems and this is spreading in UK as well as USA.

  3. Alice X

    >Starving to death can take a while. For instance, in the case of Bobby Sands, it took 66 days.

    It takes only a few days with terminal dehydration.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That is what the post pointed out, the Gazans will die of dehydration first. That is why starvation was a footnote, takes much longer and so will not be the fatal condition. Dehydration per the textbooks takes three days but other sources say as much as ten (perhaps if eating foods that have some water content, not likely to be the case in Gaza. or drinking one’s urine).

      1. Alice X

        It is a ghastly way to go, and people will be drinking any awful thing that might promise some, any relief. And then there are the children. The corporate media mis-informed world will not know of this barbarity.

        1. NYMutza

          Killing all Gazans is completely over the top. This should not be acceptable by any nation, including Israel. Merely discussing how Israel could accomplish ethnic cleansing in Gaza is atrocious. As far as the neighboring Arab countries go, if they don’t come to the aid of the Palestinians militarily and otherwise they are all worthless pieces of sh*t.

          1. ambrit

            The problem for the poor Palestinians is that they were, from the beginning, pawns on a very large chess board.
            I would imagine that the ‘involved’ Arab Governments view the Palestinians as disposable assets with which to pester and impede Israel.
            As most American client states know; with friends like these, who needs enemies?

          2. i just dont like the gravy

            They are going to do it, their plan is obvious on its face (a lot of good evidence in this one post alone).

            Given the decades-long history of this conflict, I’m not sure you (or anybody) should be surprised that Israel will in fact continue this ethnic cleansing.

          3. Alice X

            Well, Israel has cut Gaza off from all supplies, so we are not discussing the hypothetical, Israel is DOING it.

      2. Hickory

        I have gone 91 hours in a very relaxed setting with zero food/liquid consumption and never even felt thirsty. I did have fasting experience already, but I now take such upper-limit estimates with a big grain of salt… so to speak.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Dying of dehydration is supposed to be not unpleasant. And actually the Google summaries misrepresent the detail:

          You can live for a long time without eating, but dehydration (lack of fluids) speeds up the dying process. Dying from dehydration is generally not uncomfortable once the initial feelings of thirst subside. If you stop eating and drinking, death can occur as early as a few days, though for most people, approximately ten days is the average. In rare instances, the process can take as long as several weeks. It depends on your age, illness, and nutritional status.

    2. Piotr Berman

      Somewhere I read that there some wells in Gaza, water is not that good and too little, but enough to quench thirst, unless IDF will bomb the wells or people going to wells. The issue is that in the meantime, Americans will be attacked and there will be international bruhaha. This is largest scale massacre in decades.

  4. MarkinSF

    Another possible motive for the delay is that the US wants to evacuate US citizens from any potential battle zone across the region. From my understanding this is already in the works.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I saw a reference to WSJ saying that Israel is (now) delaying to give US bases and forces in the area time for protective measures.

      I guess that means the deployment of the THAAD and Patriot systems.

      And yes, I saw a news title about evacuating 600,000 US citizens mainly from Israel and Lebanon.

      1. The Rev Kev

        And with that news there is confirmation of who the target for those US forces are – Hezbollah. Good thing that there will never be any blowback for the US attacking Lebanon ever again.

  5. JonnyJames

    A lot to process here and I agree: Israel has made it clear: they don’t really care about hostages, or civilians, or casualties, they are going to invade with ground forces. As Ritter, McGregor and others have pointed out, they will suffer large casualties. The Israeli regime sees this as an opportunity to “destroy Hamas”, and totally destroy northern Gaza, ridding it of Palestinians (permanently), even if they suffer high casualty rates.

    The use of powerful “bunker buster” bombs (there are different types) in the proximity of civilians will further add to the mass carnage. Many civilians have not evacuated, reports have said. I would hope that they don’t use DU, but would not be surprising.

    I wonder to what degree Israel might want to use this also to provoke Iran into more direct involvement in the conflict? We know that Hezbollah has said they will engage Israel if they go into Gaza. Israel probably wants to draw the US into a war against Iran.

    Also, oil is up a bit today, but the question is what happens after the invasion starts?

    I guess we have to have nerves of steel nowadays: as we have seen from posts here in recent days the likelihood of escalation and spread of the conflict will increase once the ground invasion starts. This event could be a watershed moment.

  6. XXYY

    “There is no plan for the ‘day after’. The [Israeli] system hasn’t decided yet,” said one person familiar with Israeli thinking. “The Americans went crazy when they realised there was no plan.”

    Does does anyone but me find this sentence extremely comical?

    When the US, which has never done a post invasion plan in its history, is criticizing you for insufficient post invasion planning, things must be bad beyond description.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Yes, that occurred to me, too.

      I also thought that the situation might be more accurately described as “lack of post-conflict planning for the post-conflict conflict.”

      1. Hickory

        As opposed to the pre-conflict conflict occurring now, or the during-conflict conflict we expect soon…

  7. PlutoniumKun

    I think on the first point of the ‘delay’ in getting into Gaza, as Big Serge has pointed out, it takes many weeks if not months to get the manpower into place for an urban assault at this scale, so it does not necessarily indicate that there is a political delay. The reality is that attacking a big city means doing a lot of demolition work first – no doubt the Israeli’s and others have noted just how long its taken the Russians to take well defended cities like Bakhmut and Ardveeka. And while there is a lot of focus on tunnels, the Ukraine experience has shown clearly that even in modern warfare with thousands of drones, having line of sight matters, which means destroying all tall buildings if your enemy has possession of the right kind of missiles, and all indications are that Hamas has accumulated a mixed bag of capable short range munitions.

    As to the geology – the demolition impacts of deep explosions varies enormously according to geology – it is certainly true that sandy soils are not what you want if you are in a basement or tunnel and a 2,000lb deep explosion goes off nearby – but most tunnels would if possible be dug into the softer marls and clays of the region, which are far more resistant to impacts if built correctly. From what I can see of the variability of the local soft geology (most likely there are few if any tunnels directly tunneled into the limestones), then it would be almost impossible to be sure of the impact of deep penetration weapons, although no doubt that won’t stop Israel using as many as they can get their hands on.

    So my guess is that even if a firm decision has been made to go into Gaza, they will wait for several weeks to soften up the defenses, and maybe even many months. The Israeli’s will calculate that they have time on their side. Their only problem is in weapons stocks, and I doubt anyone but the Israeli high command know how much they can spare for Gaza as they will know they must save up the majority of their stocks in the event of things going wrong up north.

    That said, there must surely be voices within the Israeli high command who are aware of just how high risk it would be to go into Gaza, and urging a policy of simply making life unbearable for people there to shrink down the population, all the while focusing on bottling up Hamas politically and militarily. Eventually they may think they can do a deal over the hostages, and then hope the world goes on to worrying about something else. For the Israeli military, the real threat is in the north, in Lebanon and Syria. They will not want to degrade their strength too much in Gaza and may well resist attempts by politicians to force them to do so (the other big unknown of course being the impact of Israeli public opinion).

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Per the footnote, the Gazan soils are not sandy. That is a myth propagated by the press. I would like someone expert to opine on the link Lambert provided as to the soil composition.

      I think I overly buried the point of this post. It is to say that Israel looks to be planning to kill the civilians via dehydration. Then they are dealing with what the Innertubes guesstimates at 30,000 to 40,000 Hamas forces across all of Gaza. Destroying buildings to get at them, when many look to be taller than 4 story concrete structures, would seem to be an inefficient way to go about trying to find them and as Ritter and others have said, the rubble would favor the defender.

      I have also not seen anyone explain why most of the Hamas forces could not simply flee to Egypt were things to look really dire for them if there were enough tunnels that survived bunker busting to allow them to escape.

      1. JonnyJames

        It seems entirely possible that a significant number of Hamas fighters could escape, but the would the Egyptian military fight them or try and arrest them?

        1. nippersdad

          By the time there are Hamas fighters fleeing out of tunnels into Egypt, I imagine that domestic politics will ensure they are all paraded through the streets as heroes. From what I read, Arab governments across the MENA are all warning that they have little room for maneuver if they want to stay in power.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not a geologist, but I’ve done lots of geology based work in the past – my understanding of those ‘sandy’ deposits under Gaza are that they are a type of semi-consolidated sandstone. This type of material is ideal for tunneling, but is not necessarily very stable in earthquakes, natural or man made. The images of the tunnels I’ve seen are that they are generally unlined – unsurprising for material of that nature. If they tunneled into the marls and clays, then they would need lining. If they used fairly flexible materials (such as the brick lined tunnels for the Underground in the London Clays), then they would be very difficult to bust. But I doubt that Hamas has had the right materials available in the quantities needed to do that. One ‘unknown’ is how much help the Iranians have given in this – Iranian geologists and concrete scientists are world leaders when it comes to making earthquake resistant structures. They pioneered the use of glass fibres in concrete to improve vibration resistance and its believed that this type of concrete reinforcement has been used by the Iranian military to reinforce their own bunkers.

        As for water, we are heading into winter and the climate there is surprisingly wet for the region. While deep groundwater reserves appear to be depleted and contaminated, if there are clays and marls underlying the main urban areas there would likely be many small perched aquifers that could at least theoretically be used in the short term, but that requires drilling tech and some geological know-how. It all depends on just how well prepared and advised Hamas were. Its entirely possible that even Hamas didn’t anticipate the Israeli’s using water as a weapon against civilians.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I’m not saying the situation is bearable in any way, but the truth is that even in “normal times” only about 7% of Gaza population had potable water on tap. The rest have had to use roof collectors or buy their drinking/cooking water.

          Even the distribution system for the non-potable water has been under severe stress for decades due to the lack of electricity and crumbling infrastructure – in 2020 it was estimated 40% of the water in pipelines was lost due to leaks in the system before reaching consumers.

          For better or worse, even in “peacetime” the potable water in Gaza is either coming in bottles trough the tunnels from Egypt or collected on the roofs/pumped from the coastal aquifer and then processed by different methods into subpar potable water.

          I can only assume that for the majority of the people in Gaza the current situation means that water is more expensive than before but only slightly harder to get.

    2. ISL

      “The Israeli’s will calculate that they have time on their side.”

      They do seem to act as if. Yes, never has time been on their side in their past “mow the lawn” mass murder rages.


    3. Cian

      I think the plan was always to let the hostages die.

      The problem the IDF is dealing with is that the Israeli army is not very good. A little better than the Saudi army, but probably inferior to the (bloodied) Syrian army over the border. In every confrontation since the 70s their army has behaved in a fairly amateurish way, and this century their performance (including their supposed elite troops) has been pitiful. Because they most rely on poorly trained conscripts/reservists, they’re very casualty adverse. There’s video online of IDF troops running away from (well organized) Palestinians throwing stones. If you watch videos of their troops in the west bank it becomes clear that up against a well organized/disciplined army their troops would get massacred. Hamas (in Gaza) have performed well against Israelis in previous engagements, and they seem to have seriously improved since then.

      Also I don’t think Serge has taken into account how disruptive this is to the Israeli economy. How long can they afford to have these people sitting in the desert doing nothing? a month? Two months? And if they get into a protracted war it could destroy their (already shaky) economy.

      I remain unconvinced that the Israeli high command has a plan. All they know is bombing, and I think they’re going to keep doing it in the hope that a ‘miracle’ occurs. Don’t know how Hamas will do if it continues, but the civilian death toll (already probably higher than the Palestinian official figures. They tend to be conservative, because the western media will hyper-focus on any exaggeration) will rocket up once dehydration, starvation and disease kick in. How many of the wounded will survive without access to antibiotics, or hospitals? Cholera seems like an inevitability. If it doesn’t stop soon, we will see death levels comparable to Yemen/African conflicts. And outside the west’s bubble, the whole world sees this as an American/Israeli operation.

      The flip side of this is that at some point Israel/US will run out of bombs, along with targets. And that their air defenses will stop working. Hezbollah seem to be methodically taking out border defenses, and it’s possible that they’re also playing a waiting game. Israel has massed all its tanks on the border, and if you’ve followed any of the fighting in Ukraine, they look like a giant target.

  8. Freethinker

    Netanyahu has lost a lot of credibility with his own people – even the half that were for him on the basis of his selling point of keeping people safe. So his generals may well stand up to him & refuse to needlessly lose so many soldiers when they can simply kill by thirst, it wont cost anything, even saving US military aid to kill those in the West bank in phase 2 of Operation purity.

    The only thing that might make the US hesitate before allowing a Gaza genocide is a oil/gas embargo; they may worry it’ll trigger their ponzi economy to crash. That embargo until now impossible because the countries needed to make it work have been bought off or intimidated, could happen because of the public opinions in major oil exporters. Iran & Russia are effectively in the anti-West embargo by default because existing sanctions, but even Saudi alone if forced to join by the fear of their own people could cause Europe to crash economically as the weakest link. (Iraq is a protectorate so has no control over its own oil) The fast-becoming-impoverished European continent might then see unrest overthrow the governments that slavishly follow commands to collaborate in Usreali wars that don’t benefit the Europeans having to pay for them…..

  9. JonnyJames

    @Freethinker: Or they can wait a week or so, after civilians have either evacuated, died in the bombings, or die of dehydration – then send in the ground forces. Israeli casualty rates could be reduced that way.

    But that might be even too much for the US/Israel to deal with when it comes to the backlash and PR disaster. I would think that the mass die-off of Palestinians due to dehydration would set off a huge escalation/spread of violence by itself, even without a ground invasion. Either way, it looks very bad

    1. Feral Finster

      How many Americans or Europeans know or care about the genocide in Yemen, or their own governments’ roles in that crime?

      1. Donald

        That’s true, as I know from personal experience. And when I bring it up, since it was Obama who started it, the initial response from liberals is either “I wonder what his reason was” or ” Well, that’s how it is. Nobody is going to care.” Not exactly moral outrage. It wasn’t like real people were dying. I don’t know anyone from Yemen myself, but the reaction is pure political tribalism.

        The issue gained a bit more traction with liberals when enough time had passed and khashoggi was murdered and it was Trump’s war. Everything that happens overseas is a backdrop for domestic politics–it matters to the extent it makes Democrats or Republicans look good or bad.

        Gaza is different, because so many more people feel a personal stake in Israel. Jews are often either pro-Israel or deeply disgusted with it and the Lobby. Christian Zionists are fanatically pro-Israel–liberal Christians are either critical of Israel or else say little for fear of being called antisemitic.

        But it does get more attention. The Israel defenders whine about this, but are happy to see the billions sent every year and the politicans genuflecting to “the only democracy in the Middle East, our close ally, etc…

        So anyway, it gets way more attention than Yemen. More criticism and more apologetics. Mostly apologetics. Nobody likes the Saudis unless they are paid to like them.

        1. Feral Finster

          “The issue gained a bit more traction with liberals when enough time had passed and khashoggi was murdered and it was Trump’s war. Everything that happens overseas is a backdrop for domestic politics–it matters to the extent it makes Democrats or Republicans look good or bad.”

          And those same goodthink Team D Congressmen who affected such outrage over the genocide in Yemen changed their tune once more when Biden was in the White House.

          Interesting point regarding Israel. Funny how some many Christian conservatives gush over Israel (in part as a form of virtue-signaling, “see, we’ve moved on from The Bad Old Days!”), but their love is never exactly requited.

          1. nippersdad

            Why would their love be requited? The idea for such “Christians” is that with Armageddon will come the rapture, which will conveniently leave the Jewish population there holding the bag while they all go to heaven. However they may blather on about it, there are no worse anti-semites than conservative Christians.

      2. John k

        A lot of Palestinians in the west will noisily protest. Dems already are unhappy and will get more so if genocide proceeds. Plus news and video is getting out. Palestine and the half century of apartheid is not Yemen.

      1. JonnyJames

        What a great photo op for the mass media and history books eh?

        That’s the worse case, but: What’s the best case scenario? We need some realistic optimism

        1. Samuel Conner

          > “best case scenario”

          Perhaps under cover of a UN GA mandate (any “sympathetic to Gazans” resolution would be vetoed by US in the UN SC), an amphibious operation is undertaken to deliver masses of basic survival supplies directly onto the shores of Gaza. RF Navy would provide armed escort.

          Would Israel go to war with RF, and attack, at scale, UN personnel performing a relief operation, in order to maintain a starvation regime in Gaza? I think not, though of course I may be mistaken.

          1. ambrit

            Israel has already bombed working UN relief supply warehouses in Gaza. Israel would, if covertly given the green light by Washington, attack UN units and personnel. They would do so perhaps even without Washington’s approval. Remember the USS Liberty attack back in 1967. Israel attacked an American electronics spy ship off of the coast of Palestine to cover up something they were doing during the Six Day War. American servicemen died and the American Government did nothing.
            USS Liberty attack:
            The elephant in this room is the outsized influence that religious and other sorts of fanatic have in the Israeli government. To a lesser extent, the same applies to the American Government.
            The short version is that we are not dealing with sane and rational people at the tops of these governments.

                1. Polar Socialist

                  It’s almost as that kind of things are part of the Israeli version of machismo – “we don’t follow rules, dare to stop us”.

                2. PlutoniumKun

                  I know quite a few soldiers who have served in the Lebanon for the UN. Without exception they believed that the Israelis either directly or indirectly by proxy militias targeted UN units who were deemed to be too friendly to the locals. Most attacks aren’t fatal, they are intended as reminders to soldiers on duty, although dozens of UN soldiers have died in southern Lebanon over the years.

                  That said, the most recent fatalities among soldiers have involved Shia villagers attacking UN units in somewhat murky circumstances.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    After the 2006, there was a lot of – earned – mistrust about those international soldiers stationed in the south of Lebanon. Such as when French soldiers would burst into a home and use mobiles to take an image of every person in that home. Everybody knew who the eventual recipient of those images would be.

            1. Lysias

              The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was perpetrated with the connivance of the LBJ administration.

              I was a member of the Naval Security Group, the branch of the Navy to which the Liberty belonged.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Biden dying or being hospitalized with something lasting. I can’t imagine us going to or risking escalation to war with Harris as commander in chief. Biden is still nominally a decider and of a very hawkish cut.

          1. JonnyJames

            Thanks Yves, reminds me of Bush Jr. and “I’m the decider”. Many would wonder how much Biden actually decides, and how much he is guided or influenced by others in his admin. CIA Intelligence briefings, NSC, Pentagon etc. His cognitive abilities are clearly diminished. Late imperial wacky emperors I guess. It’s like a sad parody

        1. Lysias

          Young Americans will not cooperate with a new draft. The government would have to hire foreign mercenaries.

    2. ALB

      For all the horror that mass genocide by dehydration portends, I’m guessing Hamas has food and water for their fighters outside of what has been earmarked for humanitarian aid. I less they’re really dumb, which they have been shown to not be. Israel goes in Hamas is going to slaughter a lot of IDF fighters.

  10. Louis Fyne

    There are only a discrete number of career, professional infantry in the IDF.

    Nowhere near the numbers needed for urban warfare in Gaza City, let alone Gaza Strip—and deter/fight a northern war.

    IDF reservists will be involved, though presumably not doing the heavy lifting.

    See how 90’s Russian conscripts fared in Grozny during the 1st Chechen War.

    IDF reservists will fare better than 90’s Russian conscripts—-only when it comes to logistical support.

  11. Samuel Conner

    I have no expertise in this subject, but the smoke plumes (IIRC these were characterized as “geysers” (like the earth “fountains” from bombs and artillery shells that detonate below the surface), but they seemed to me to be simply smoke and debris ejected from what are presumably vertical shafts in the tunnel network) in the Dreizin video did not seem large enough to me to be the result of exploding munitions stockpiles.

    I am tempted to wonder whether they might have been accidental explosions of explosive traps set in the tunnels or perhaps even in the vertical access shafts themselves.

    If the tunnel network is defended with traps, that’s another incentive to not try to penetrate into it.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The classic design of tunnels is of course the Vietnamese experience (if you have strong nerves you can still visit them), and they were designed specifically with various forms of twists and vents to prevent either gas, liquid, or shock waves travelling too far. All this is open source information so you’d expect Hamas to be well aware of how to design them. So you would expect to see that type of effect if a tunnel network was hit. Its really impossible to know for sure from just video if this was a normal shock wave effect of if it was secondary explosions. I’ve known explosive fountains to go off in a chain along sewerage pipes following gas explosions (one nearly demolished a pub near where I grew up because the built an illegal extension over a sewer manhole cover – fortunately nobody died). The only thing for sure is that a tunnel was hit and destroyed

  12. Rob

    Now that Palestinians have successfully been portrayed as dishonest, dirty, lazy and uneducated, they can’t buy an ounce of sympathy from the collective West. Whose history does that type of propaganda remind you of? For now Israel appears to have won the propaganda game for the hearts and minds of the majority, or at least with the MSM. If Hamas were smart they would stop posting pictures of dead Palestinian children, as no one seems to care since they’ve been categorized as subhuman. Rather they should post pictures of all the dead puppy dogs and cats lying among the bombed out houses. I’m sure they’d get more public reaction from the West than they do now, at least from the animal welfare societies.

    1. Freethinker

      I live in a western vassal state, so mainstream mass media lackeys here supply uncut 100% propaganda 24/7 too, but the collective west amount to only ~ 1 billion people globally out of the 8 billion pie. Isolated by our censorship, apathy & arrogance, it’s easy for us to forget 1 billion muslims will sympathise with the Palestinians, while a billion African & S. Americans apiece, + 2.5 Indians & Chinese + the rest sit on the fence. So if we took our blinkers off, we’d realise our little bubble is the exception, not the rule, the vast majority, ~ 90% of the planet either disapprove of killing innocents or don’t care, but certainly don’t ritually support it.

    2. vao

      Whose history does that type of propaganda remind you of?

      Every single case where a colonial power had to contend with the furious rebellion of oppressed natives. The vocabulary and the practices it serves to justify are exactly the same.

      1. Lysias

        British propaganda against the people of India eventually failed to work. Ditto for French propaganda about Algeria.

  13. Screwball

    Given what is going on with the wars in this world, and how they are being fought, by whom and against whom, and how they are being fought, combined with a southern border that is a sieve, how many more 9/11s are on our horizon? I can’t imagine the blowback from all this. That doesn’t include the possibility of crippling sanctions against the US, or the possibility of another oil embargo type event.

    We are pushing the envelope of finding out exactly what F around and find out means. I don’t see how all this ends well.

    These people are insane.

    1. flora

      You aren’t looking at the “upside,” for some definition of “upside.” / ;) More 9/ii’s on US soil will help the B admin pass its already written, notoriously bad for civil liberties and Constitutional order, domestic terrierism bill, aka the Patriot Act v 2.0 on steroids. These people aren’t necessarily insane; they have different ideas about what final results are good results, which results are different than most of us see as good results, imo. / ;)

      1. Screwball

        I agree flora. That’s coming too. Isn’t it obvious by now they don’t care how many die for their greed? I’m old and I’m kind of glad. What a world.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      from a couple of days ago:

      Michael Tracy gives and overview of Hagee….a nutter in san antonio with a whole bunch of followers…and to whom gop presidential aspirants make regular pilgrimages.
      Hagee is an important datapoint in all this mess.

      ive driven past his “church” on occasion, almost by accident.
      once on a sunday, even.

  14. Aurelien

    I won’t repeat here what I’ve written in an essay on this subject earlier today, but just a quick reply to your question on Hezbollah options. Remember, Hezbollah likes to call itself, and is often called by others “The Resistance”. Their legitimacy originally came from having successfully resisted the 2006 Israeli invasion, and, whilst some of the lustre has since worn off with their membership of various governments, they still present themselves as primarily a patriotic force defending the soil of Lebanon against “the Enemy.” They don’t see themselves as a theocratic supranationalist Islamic force like Hamas, let alone the Islamic State. This means that it’s highly improbable that they would stage an “invasion” of Israel, nor have they any need to do so. The current level of tension suits them, and Tehran, quite nicely. The newspaper Al-Akhbar, generally described as “close to Hezbollah” is reporting today that the fighting continues with Hezbollah “targeting military sites near the Lebanese-Palestinian border.” (Israel is “occupied Palestine” in Hezbollah speak.) They claim to have destroyed one Israeli tank with a guided missile. So long as they can continue to do this, and threaten Israeli border settlements, the Israelis have no choice but to keep substantial forces in that area.

    1. caucus99percenter

      From Al-Manar, Hezbollah news agency / TV broadcaster:

      Hezbollah missile fire at Avivim site claims number of Israeli soldiers: video

      Notice how Al-Manar always puts the word “Israel” (though not “Israeli”) in single quotation marks? That’s reminiscent of what West German publisher Axel Springer’s newspapers and magazines did during the Cold War — always putting quotation marks around “DDR” (abbreviation for German Democratic Republic = East Germany).

      1. Lysias

        I remember hearing “die sogenannte DDR (the so-called DDR)” a lot when I was stationed in Berlin.

  15. David in Friday Harbor

    Pretty obvious that the intent of the Nut-‘n-Yahoo regime and their Beltway enablers Biden/Blinken/Austin is to dehydrate/starve the residents of Gaza to death, while typhus, cholera, and respiratory illness wipe-out those who aren’t dying fast enough. Any survivors will be evacuated to tent camps in Egypt. Then they’ll bring in the bunker-busters to devastate as much of the tunnel-dwellers as possible before ground troops enter to mop-up.

    This is straight-up genocide under any reasonable definition of the term, and the U.S. government is in it up to their necks. History has shown that genocide is the only effective way for an apartheid regime to prevail. It makes my heart ache that Joe Biden has shown himself to be nothing but a callous gangster bent on ethnic-cleansing. His lifelong friendship with Strom Thurmond was the “tell.”

    Not in My Name…

    1. Lysias

      I doubt if Storm Thurmond would have participated in a genocide. (He resigned from a judgeship to join the Army in 1942 and participated in D-Day, landing in a glider attached to the 82nd Airborne.) Joe Biden was of an age where he could have served in the military in Vietnam but avoided such service. Not that he objected to the war.

  16. Helena Cobban

    My piece on Israel’s growing leadership crisis is here. Bottom line, the only thing the Israeli military & political leaderships and the Biden administration can actually agree on is just to *keep on bombing Gaza from the air*…

    1. Stephen T Johnson

      Wow, Helena, that was an interesting, if deeply worrying piece. I think I’ll go hide under my bed now.

    2. boomheiat

      It is hard to predict, here, but it seems as if with each passing day the Palestinian side is gaining more sympathizers around the world. This.entire crisis has brought to the fore the Palestiniam occupation, forced the world to face it. For decades the narrative was about plucky.little Israel holding.a toehold in the middle.of the hostile Arab sea, miraculously.winning several short wars. That narrative seems to be shifting to one that says the newest nation in the Middle East has itself.become an occuoping power seeking to destroy the very people whose lands it took in order to exist. The hegemon protector is weaker, having lost every war it began in the last half century, and is becoming isolated itself. The Palestinian people face an existential threat. So does Isreal. When peoples face existential conditions, all bets are off.

  17. danf51

    Russia has 400k forces deployed along 900 ,miles of front in Ukraine. Israel will have 400k forces deployed against about 75 miles of front around Gaza and facing north against Hezbollah.

    Hamas is neutralized and has lost the initiative. They can only wait and try to respond to whatever actions Israel takes. If Ukraine is a hopeless case in the arithmetic of war vs a vastly stronger Russia. The story in Gaza is even more lopsided. Ukraine can be supplied by the US. Gaza cannot.

    It very well may be that Israel views Hezbollah as it’s priority. Just as Japan drew the US into WW2, but the US prioritized Europe, so may be the Israeli view. Thus far Hezb sits on it’s hands. If pressure is growing on Israel to act. The same kind of pressure is growing on Hezb. Their jihadi credibility is leaking away each day they sit idle and Gaza is turned to dust.

    Much hopeful talk is made of the difficulty in urban combat. But Russia has shown the way in multiple assaults on urban areas that have been just as heavily fortified at Gaza. And the Russians have accomplished this with a fraction of the density of forces Israel will be able to bring to bear.

    Israel has not said anything about “clearing” Gaza. Their war aim is to kill Hamas. To do that, you want to draw them into battle with fire and then as firing positions are exposed, destroy them with massive fires: rinse, repeat. As to the hope that the IDF is casualty adverse, the disaster of Oct 7 has perhaps immunized the IDF against prioritizing casualties over mission.

    The real game it seems to me is that Israel wants Hezb to initiate a war in the north. They know that the world will refuse to see any justification for a preemptive attack on Hezb, so Israel wants them to start it. Hezb dosent want to start it. They know they can damage Israel, but with Israel fully mobilized and no clock working against them, Hezb knows it will be defeated – perhaps decisively. Yet Israel, at it’s leisure picks Gaza apart and Hezb sits on it’s hands and does nothing.

    1. Freethinker

      According to the likes of colonel Douglas Macgregor & Scott Ritter, the Russian forces are now the best trained, experienced, equiped & motivated military available. Yes hamas have peashooters against all the unlimited kit the IDF are gifted by US taxpayers, but most forces will be reservists whose recent experience for years now has been limited to beating up pensioners, kids & women at checkpoints, torturing unarmed civilian men with no fighting skills & taking potshots at stone-throwing teenagers or journalists from a safe distance. Weekend warriors on the occasional canned-hunting expeditions shooting on sight in the bantustans when resistance flares up is not going to be the kind of experience they’ll need with gritty, close up urban moonscape ruins combat, where fancy expensive tech toys don’t de-sanitise so easily like a videogame drone operator.

      1. TimH

        Also, the Hamas fighters are probably less bothered about dying than the Ru, Ukr, and IDF squaddies.

    2. vao

      Your argument is on its face reasonable, but, like many other analyses, omits one important factor: what happens in the West Bank. A third front in the making.

    3. Lex

      Israel doesn’t have 400k for Gaza. It has to defend the the Lebanese border, the Golan heights and commit forces for the West Bank. And that’s only if it can count on the total security of the Jordanian and Egyptian borders. Which it cannot in this scenario.

      Additionally, more forces in the tight quarters of urban assault is not necessarily better because it leads to bunching up. At best it allows for constant rotation, but that requires very secure lines which could be iffy in the chaos that is no northern Gaza.

  18. Offtrail

    If Gazans are literally dying of thirst, that will put great pressure on Egypt to open its gates. World opinion will be overwhelmingly critical of Egypt, but the US veto at the UNSC will be a powerful roadblock.

    What Americans should not do us support a US / European gesture of allowing token supplies into Gaza. Israel already had Gaza on a starvation diet. Supplies should be allowed to flow freely, and Israel should allow a protected corridor.

  19. ChrisPacific

    I think it’s definitely possible that the US is trying to curb Israel privately even as it promises support publicly. It’s hard to see a ground invasion of Gaza as anything other than a disaster for the US (probably for Israel too, but they’re still entertaining the delusion that it can succeed).

    In addition to the notes in the FT link, I’ve noticed an unusual number of human interest stories highlighting the plight of Gaza civilians, and trying to get us to see them as human beings and empathize with them. It’s the same kind of story we saw all the time for Syria, and still see regularly for Ukraine. (When I say ‘an unusual number’ I mean a number greater than zero, since stories about the Palestinian plight are generally verboten in Western media). It suggests that the state-influenced propaganda stories may actually be working against Israel for a change.

    1. hk

      I keep thinking it might be the opposite: Netanyahu etc might be talking crazy in the hope that US would publicly demand that they calm down, which would give them cover for “pulling back.”. So far, that has not happened: if anything, Biden, Blinken, etc have sounded at least as deranged as the Israeli leaders. So Netanyahu and his people won’t be able to use US as the excuse to pull back and actually have to eat their words: either attack and suffer all its attendant consequences or retreat without any cover. I suspect that this is likely why they are pushing things back: waiting for someone to give them an excuse to not do something that they themselves will be far too costly on multiple dimensions.

  20. Susan the other

    Would Hamas be so ditzy as to dig a warren of secret tunnels without sufficient secret exits? This is beginning to look like Groundhog Day.

  21. Phenix

    One of the journalists we follow was banned from Instagram. We found this video again. If this is scrubbed I understand. I’m still struggling with the imagery and I spent years researching the Iraq Wars.

  22. Midwit Pundit

    All Hamas has to do is release the hostages and the aid will flow. Hamas is responsible for the condition of the Palestinians, who are cursed with being the object of Hamas’s sympathies. Collective punishment and indiscriminate violence is what Hamas perpetrated on Oct 7 and continues to perpetrate on both Israelis and Palestinians for the benefit of feudal warlords and mullahs, as violence has for centuries.

    Israel should be proud to be the gun sights of a group like Hamas. It means they are doing something right. Israel threatens the feudal system entrenched throughout the Middle East. Hamas attacked Kibbutzim, egalitarian communal living spaces, which represent a direct challenge to sheikdom’s oppression of peasantry endemic to Caliphates. Everywhere the Jewish Diaspora goes, goes literacy, progressive ideas, and alternatives that threaten the feudal lord’s subjugation of peasants, better ways of living. This is the root of antisemitism. Always has been.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Everywhere the Jewish Diaspora goes, goes literacy, progressive ideas, and alternatives that threaten the feudal lord’s subjugation of peasants, better ways of living. This is the root of antisemitism. Always has been.”

      The White Man’s Burden is the root of antisemitism.

      Please tell me that what you wrote was parody.

    2. turtle

      Right. Total and complete oppression and subjugation by foreigners will really make those peasants finally see that the problem is the lesser oppression and subjugation by the domestic feudal lords. Got it.

    3. Lysias

      Hamas has said that it would release the hostages if there is a ceasefire. The US and Israel are the ones blocking a ceasefire.

  23. nippersdad

    This looks like a new take on a lawfare angle that I have yet to see re the Gaza conflict. Per Eugene Kontorovich, director of George Mason University’s Scalia Law School’s Center for the Middle East and International Law school, it is everyone else’s problem.

    “Because Gazan civilians have refugee status under the OAU convention, Egypt is required to use absolute best efforts to “receive” them and “secure” their safe settlement in Egypt or elsewhere.”…”ndeed, the African Union, the OAU’s successor organization, stated in 2022 that “all people have the right to cross international borders during conflict.”…”Why should Egypt be allowed to seal itself off at the expense of civilian suffering?”

    And, get this:

    “The United States provides Egypt with $3 billion a year in aid and is thus in a position to pressure it to live up to its international obligations.”

    I don’t know how well this rationale will fly in the UN Security Council, but it appears to be designed to eat a lot of its’ time in debate even as Israel is starting a war with the UN over Guterres’ comments about the Gaza conflict not happening in a vacuum.

      1. R.S.

        Right from his Wiki page
        Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Kontorovich moved to the US with his parents at the age of three. He immigrated to Israel in 2013 with his wife and four children, and lived in the Alon Shvut settlement.

    1. vao

      From the Wikipedia page:

      Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Kontorovich moved to the US with his parents at the age of three. He immigrated to Israel in 2013 with his wife and four children, and lived in the Alon Shvut settlement.

      He is also member of Israeli right-wing think-tanks, has been actively promoting anti-BDS laws, was supported by the Federalist Society, lived in a settlement founded on confiscated Palestinian land… Ticks all the boxes.

      1. nippersdad

        I know, right?

        What unmitigated gall. No mention that Israel gets three billion a year to ethnically cleanse the joint. If ever there was a doubt that they thought the Sinai was the solution this is it.

    2. Bill Urman

      The slaughter of Palestinians will continue with shelling and bombing. A ground offensive may still be weeks away. I do not believe any expression of outrage at the butchery will make any difference. The extremists calling the shots in the Israeli government/military believe their mission is righteous. And after all, Israel continues to have the support of the US and our “allies.”

      The major outstanding question for me is whether the other players in the region will make the decision to seriously engage Israel. Iran reportedly promised as much if Israel launched a ground invasion. If Israel continues bombing Gaza into virtual oblivion, and the ground assault is further delayed, will Iran, Hezbollah, etc. not respond? How much carnage will they tolerate before they act directly against Israel?

      1. Freethinker

        Egypt has been bought off, Lebanon is a failed state & can’t cope in peacetime let alone with war, Iraq is a US military protectorate & Syria is on a Russian life support machine. Saudi don’t get into wars with opponents who can actually fight back, they can’t win their own current war against a militia with all the massively overpriced toys the US can fool them into buying. But Jordan is a wildcard, too smart to get dragged into a war they know would destroy them, Usrael also control their water supply …..on the other hand there may be pressure from the street now in that 2/3 of the population are Palestinian from an earlier wave pushed over the border. (Hence why Egypt are wary of the same trick on them)

    3. hk

      By the same token, shouldn’t Israel be obliged to take the Gazans “back”? After all, they are originally from there….

  24. flora

    Isr may have started a war, as opposed to a police action, too soon, before it knew how to achieve its war aims.

    Clauswitz on war:
    “No one starts a war–or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so–without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.”

  25. ThirtyOne

    America has been taking a lot of heat lately, but that’s nothing new.
    Political Science
    Randy Newman, c.1972

    No one likes us
    I don’t know why
    We may not be perfect
    But heaven knows we try
    But all around
    Even our old friends put us down
    Let’s drop the big one
    And see what happens

    We give them money
    But are they grateful
    No, they’re spiteful
    And they’re hateful
    They don’t respect us
    So let’s surprise them
    We’ll drop the big one
    And pulverize them

    Asia’s crowded
    And Europe’s too old
    Africa’s far too hot
    And Canada’s too cold
    And South America stole our name
    Let’s drop the big one
    There’ll be no one left to blame us

    We’ll save Australia
    Don’t want to hurt no kangaroo
    We’ll build an all American amusement park there
    They’ve got surfing, too

    Boom goes London
    And boom Paris
    More room for you
    And more room for me
    And every city the whole world round
    Will just be another American town
    Oh, how peaceful it’ll be
    We’ll set everybody free
    You’ll have Japanese kimonos, baby
    There’ll be Italian shoes for me
    They all hate us anyhow
    So let’s drop the big one now
    Let’s drop the big one now

  26. Lex

    Netanyahu and various Israeli military and political leaders have made bold claims that they probably can’t realistically back up. And they continue given that Bibi said he was going to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah today. There is no “good” scenario for an assault on an area the size of Gaza with its population; not one which Israel even with all the backing of the US has the means to successfully execute. The cost will be high.

    The current “strategy” of starving, dehydrating and bombing Gaza until Egypt opens the border isn’t realistic either. For one it is textbook genocide. But geopolitically it relies on Egypt caving in to Israeli demands. If Egypt doesn’t, then Israel and the US genocide Gaza. The whole original plan was the Sinai option. That’s what Blinken went to Egypt for and it failed. The big threat of an assault was supposed to push it over the finish line, then a week of bombing might. As usual, there was no Plan B.

    And now the tilt of the international politics has gone decidedly against the Israeli-US position. So as in Ukraine, the US (now with Israel instead of a true puppet) is stuck in a reaction loop. They don’t want to try the ground assault, but they backed themselves into a corner with threats. I think it’s worth noting the sustained and growing chorus for the two-state solution. Everyone knows it’s a non-starter because it’s impossible, but it sounds reasonable and is internationally legal. Except it would destroy modern Israel politically.

    The remaining question is whether the region and the RoW will stand firm. If it does, there’s no way out for the US / Israel. And i think that is precisely the point.

    1. hk

      Also, there’s no reason for RoW to depart from the two state solution. Whether it is feasible or not, it is the “legal” position that pretty much everyone agreed to. It also has the advantage of being “moral” and “sovereignty compatible.”. First, it allows the countries to have the moral high ground of not recognizing territorial enlargement via naked aggression and they would not be telling Israel how to conduct its “domestic” politics. Plus Israel itself agreed to this decades ago. No one pro-Israel would be able to spin this as “antisemitism” with any credibilty.

      1. plurabelle

        What’s moral about rewarding land theft? What’s sovereignty compatible about a coloniser giving away more than half of an indigenous people’s land to colonisers without their consent, without even consulting them? What’s sovereignty compatible about insitutionalising apartheid by recognising two states of white Israel and (de facto) Palestinian bantustans? What’s moral about institutionalising ethno-religious hatred and segregation? “All the immoral people agreed to it” doesn’t make something moral. To say it is legal is to set a precedent that what the colonisers did to Palestine can be done to any country in the future – including the settler colonies of the West.

        1. Polar Socialist

          About a decade or so back I read an opinion that the only fair solution would be to move out from the region all the people whose grandparents were not born there and implement a one-state solution. With truth commissions ripping open all the old wounds aiming for justice and reconciliation. Only after that could the expelled start to return with the consent of the rest of the population.

          The problem with fair and just is that it rarely is fair and just.

  27. upstater

    Stalingrad, Konigsberg and Berlin are worth remembering. All 3 had overwhelming force with air superiority, infantry, armor and artillery laying siege to a ruined urban center.

    Stalingrad was a long, dense city and manufacturing center on the Volga. It occupied the high ground with a kilometer wide river and flat plains to the east. Initially logistics worked for the Nazis and were very difficult for the Red Army. The initial aerial bombardment killed 40,000 and turned much of the city to rubble. While the Red Army had artillery east of the Volga, the Nazis had tanks in the streets.

    It differs because civilians were largely evacuated. But the Red Army was essentially infantry in the city itself. It had a huge supply of replacements. Eventually the “university of street fighting” prevailed. But a million died there.

    Both Konigsberg and Berlin were defended by the depleted Wehrmacht. Both cost the Red Army greatly, in spite of overwhelming force. The Volkssturm rose to the occasion. Were they Hamas-like?

    Hamas of course is not the Red Army in Stalingrad. But then Israel’s 300,000 reservists aren’t the German Sixth Army at the top of its game, either. And 2.4 million civilians in 2023 almost certainly will not be subject to the likes of the siege of Leningrad.

    I’d feel better if we didn’t have a senile Zionist as president with the neocons in charge of State and DOD. Hard not to worry…

    1. redleg

      there never been a clearing operation in this large a setting, there has also never been one that has had to contend with such an extensive tunnel system.

      Okinawa 1945.
      More tunnels than urban, but this is what I see an an analogue.

      1. hk

        Okinawa has always been fairly densely populated, so it’s not a bad analogy even in that dimension. The number of deaths among Okinawan civilians was horrendous as well.

      2. Lysias

        On Okinawa, the Allies had some 200,000 ground troops, 3,000 planes, 300 ships, and however many personnel were on the ships and in the planes.

  28. Mikel

    Basically, a lot of waiting to see how different the world’s response will be to this massacre versus all of the others that have happened.

    1. Mikel

      *all of the others that have happened in various parts of the world.

      And another note…here in the USA we still have the few times a week average of mass shootings (not counting domestic violence related ones). “Terrorists” take note…if they’re thinking mass death of the average person will have one bit of effect that will lead to change in any way.

  29. John k

    I wonder how confident Iran is. My guess is Hizbullah will follow irans lead, which might see this as an opportunity to push us and maybe israel out of ME. Logically there would first be an oil blockade to try to split off eu… what is Russian perspective? Avoid further exciting the crazies? But in just 2-e weeks gonna see/hear of massive civvy deaths. How long can Arabs do nothing? Need some riots.
    I imagine lots of discussions between Arab+ opec and China.
    Us hugely extended regardless of what Yellen thinks of mmt, can’t print superior weapons or more troops. Our country has been hollowed out by short term neoliberalism.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Iran heretofore has made clear that it will attack only if it is attacked. I don’t know how it is squaring its threat to intervene in the face of a ground attack on Gaza with that.

      Also Iran funds but does not control Hezbollah. No doubt a lot of info-sharing and coordination takes place.

      Most observers see Hezbollah are more likely than Iran to escalate militarily, at least first.

      1. Lex

        So many claims being made by all parties and not all of them turning out to be 100% reliable. I’m with you on the Iranian position. I would guess that it won’t attack Israel directly but will cause problems for the US via other proxies and agree to more aggressive Hezbollah behavior. All of the US base attacks are being done by Iran-linked militias (who are apparently working under a new umbrella organization in Iraq). I don’t think the Houthis launched missiles at Israel, though they do have missiles ranged for Israel, but more to force the Carney to engage them. Whether they were actually at the Carney is a question we won’t get an answer to.

        I would predict that similar escalatory measures is how Iran would initially “intervene”. I’m also thinking that Hezbollah currently has the “please refrain from anything more than border harassment for the time being. But if/when more is necessary, you have our support and resupply”. Tehran will get blamed any which way, so the line between them intervening to support Gaza and only getting involved if they’re directly attacked is razor thin.

  30. Brian Beijer

    But Iran has massive and deeply buried command centers and operations. Hamas would presumably have sought and received advice on how to build and fortify its tunnels to resist bunker bombs.1

    I honestly do not understand why so many people link Hamas to Iran while the press openly admits that Israel and Qatar have been Hamas’ main supporters? Isn’t Hamas a Sunni militia while Iran is a Shia government who financially supports Hezbollah, a Shia militia? Wouldn’t it be more likely that Hamas received advice on how to build tunnels from Al Quaeda, another Sunni militia backed by the US, Israel and Qatar (among others)?
    Other than the fact that Iran believes that the treatment of Palestinians by Israel is inhumane and unacceptable, is there any connection at all between Hamas and Iran? Wouldn’t 80% of the planet fall into that category?

  31. everydayjoe

    Hamas is a idea. How can you kill a idea? Every kid in Palestine/lebanaon will want to become one when they grow up.
    US has to broker a two state solution and only US can do it if they will it.
    When China gets the spine to get into regional skirmishes and send aircraft carriers ( like US) then maybe there will be a counter balance to America and then the 2 state will happen?

    1. Freethinker

      China is far too smart to get sucked into other peoples’ foolish wars, they will continue to work hard, quietly building a global economic empire & peacefully dominate the world by trade, they understand that everyone almost always loses in a war, so it should be used only as a last resort, not the cretinous default first step. That is why they are the only people on earth to have had several civilisations while most have had none.

  32. Freethinker

    Ironically, cutting off a slice of land on the Usraeli border with Sinai might be tempting for Egypt to create a buffer state for the Palestinians. Looking at a map, that would be an irrelevant loss to Egypt in comparison to not having the nightmare of a border with a permanently violent, psychopathic narcissist & the current line was arbitrarily drawn by others in the past anyway. (if it had been a fraction further south it would have been accepted & uncontroversial reality now already) The ‘new’ Palestinian bantustan of Gaza would be no less unviable than the current one & actually have another outlet to the sea close to Saudi that would be harder for their jailors to seal off in future extermination campaigns.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, Egypt is dead set against this. Why are the Gazans Egypt’s problem? If you don’t think they will have to set up tent cities and provide substantial humanitarian relief, you are smoking something strong.

      And philosophically, why should Egypt enable Israel’s ethnic cleansing? Supporting it would also incur the risk of The Resistance causing lots of trouble for the Egyptian government.

      1. Freethinker

        Ah, sorry, my comment was too brief & so lost nuance, I was actually attempting sarcasm, I agree that no country should have to pay for the crimes of others & that would amount to gross appeasement. A cautionary tale with clear & obvious relevance is the state of Jordan next door – close to being an unviable state with not enough resources to support it’s population …..2/3 of which are refugees from previous ‘ethnic-cleansing pushes’ over the border.

      2. Cian

        Plus Hamas are ideologically aligned with Muslim Brotherhood, so truly the last group their dictator would want to risk letting into Egypt.

  33. Victor Sciamarelli

    More can be said about China in all of this. China has reasons to prevent war from escalating. It relies on oil from Iran. And as Iran’s largest customer and chief reason Iran is able to avoid US sanctions, China has influence in Iran and will likely rein it in.
    China also relies on Saudi oil and Qatar LNG, and its Gwadar Port in Pakistan is a stone’s throw from Iran.The disruption from damaged refineries due to a regional war is not in China’s interest.
    Moreover, while it maintains good relations with Muslim countries, China is one of Israel’s top trading partners.
    Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Putin have had good relations. Though stressed by Russia’s dependence on Iranian drones, Israel and Russia cooperate in Syria.
    In contrast, the inept diplomacy of team Biden and Blinken has practically wrecked America’s standing in the ME with its unconditional and unlimited support for Israel.
    China, as well as Russia, just might position itself to arrange an international conference to not only resolve the Isreal Palestinian crisis but eventually eliminate the US influence in the ME.

  34. Cian

    > the US with its much greater resources, has not been able to eliminate Al Qaeda, is confirmed in a Financial Times comment

    Of course they might have had more luck if the CIA hadn’t decided to fund/support/train them in Syria…

  35. stickNmud

    John Helmer wrote several articles recently about the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Here are two excerpts:

    This is the process which the British began with their Balfour Declaration in 1917; the US military began to implement in 1942, when General George Patton led allied forces ashore in Morocco and Algeria; and when President Franklin Roosevelt decided to ignore Arab resistance to the Jewish state at his meeting King Abdulaziz of Saudi on board the USS Quincy on February 14, 1945.

    Roosevelt had preceded the meeting with the assurance to his Jewish advisers at the White House that “Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arab should be in it.” He also told one of them he “could do anything that needed to be done with [the king] with a few million dollars.”

    The grandson of Abdulaziz, Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), now prime minister and de facto ruler of the Saudi kingdom, was contemplating the latest US bribe to accept the state of Israel when the Hamas attack began on October 7, pitching the entire Arab world into a fight against Israel’s plan to destroy the “human animals” — as Israel’s defence minister calls the Palestinians. The Hamas attack has obliged MBS to follow his grandfather, repeating to Roosevelt’s successors in Washington that the Arabs don’t like trees; and that if they grow them they won’t allow them to be inherited by Jews.

Comments are closed.