Israeli Soldiers Face Tough Road Into Gaza – OpEd


Israel’s land invasion into Gaza is not going well. While Israeli politicians and military have tirelessly said the only way to eliminate Hamas once-and-for-all is to send troops on the ground to Gaza, the fight, started well over one week ago, is proving to be tough and testing the Israeli army to the limits. 

Israel so-called land invasion started on through main fronts from the north-west, north-east and center-east. Although actual details are being left out by the Israeli military, troops are being send across the border in these three directions while being backed by tanks, armored vehicles and supported from the air by American-made F-16’s and F-35’s. 

Incursions from the north 

In the north-west, they are trying to get through places like Al Karamah and Al Tawaem. And in the north-east they are getting to get through Biet Lahia and Biet Hanoon. Military experts however, say they are being stopped at these points by the Hamas Izz Al Din Al Qassam operatives who are proving formidable fighters. 

Israeli troops first entered open lands after crossing the siege surrounding Gaza. These lands are wild and for the most part uninhabitable because of the geographical space making it an easy place to cross. Such is the whole area across this northern strip.

However, the Israeli troops soon meet Hamas fighters and get into clashes with them on the outskirts of populated areas like Al Karamah which oddly enough has the American neighborhood. Here, as well, the names of different neighborhoods begin to proliferate.

The same is the case in the north-west which tended to be more developed than its counterpart after the initial crossing of pastureland. Here, lies the Jabalia Camp which is being continually bombed by Israeli planes, Biet Lahia and Biet Hanoun. They still have a good-size population despite the fact many have been displaced – topped at 1.2 million – as a result of the Israeli bombardment warnings and the subsequent road strikes while they were on the move. 

Not so fast!

The Israelis, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been upbeat however, saying his troops are on the verge of entering Gaza City which is further down from these places. But this is no more than a public relations campaign for the fact is Israeli troops are being killed by Hamas operatives on a daily basis. 

As of 3 November, 2023, the Israeli army admitted 25 of its troops were killed facing Hamas operatives. They also suggested at least 261 of their soldiers were injured. The Israeli army also reported that since 7 October, its air force planes made 150 trips shuttling the dead and injured from the battlefields. 

Besides, many experts suggest the number of dead and injured among Israeli soldiers is far higher than is being admitted and reported. This is because of Israeli domestic opinion, an increasing number of whom are against the war, especially the parents and relatives of the 240 or so that are being held by Hamas as hostages and bargaining chips, including increasing the entry of food and other supply lorries through the Rafah crossing.

This is not to say anything about the daily military cost of the war at $246 million the losses in military hardware like the tanks and armored vehicles. Israel is losing tanks and other military equipment on a daily basis. Numbers vary but so far figures range from 24 and 50 while the numbers rise at incredible losses into the millions and even billions. It is estimated for instance a Merkava tank costs about $170 million. 

Double loss 

Away from the military. With 350,000 reservists called up the Israeli economy is experiencing it worst ever and across all sectors. The removal of the such an important work force means a double loss as these people are no longer contributing to the country’s GNP and the fact that the state is ending up paying for their upkeep during the duration of the war which is estimated to be costing from the start $1 trillion dollar. 

It’s no wonder as well that 56% of pollsters say Netanyahu is not handling the war in Gaza effectively and should therefore be replaced as Prime Minister. As well, Israeli politicians are becoming frustrated about the war, and that include Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Benny Gantz, who was brought especially into the war cabinet for Israel’s war with Gaza.  

Although he is keeping a stiff upper lip, Netanyahu is under no illusion that “it is going to be a long and difficult war”.  On the other hand, Gantz is on record of saying that seeing elite brigade soldiers being killed is “very painful” to the point of being tearful and he recognized that Israel’s war against Hamas is going to be most “complicated.” 

This is while Gallant has been quoted as saying Israel is paying a “heavy price” in its ground operation reference to the soldiers who are being killed with up to 40 killed in two days in combat with Hamas fighters.

Third front 

Despite the odds, Israel has already opened a third front trying to send its troops and tanks through the east center of Gaza which includes passing through Palestinian areas like Al Zaitoun, Al Shajaiya, the Salah Al Din Road which runs through the Strip from north till south and Johr Al Diek. Here, as well strategists are arguing the Israelis are facing on ground resistance from Hamas fighters and are being prevented from getting to the Al Rasheed Road that runs down the coastline of the Strip, and which they want to control and split the north and middle areas of Gaza from its south part. 

This has been Israel’s strategy all along, to empty the north of its population and drive them to the south to Rafah, the border city with Egypt. Many see the purpose of this is to force them into that country and empty Gaza of its population. 

However, because of the narrowness of the strip and the stiff resistance they are getting in these areas, Israeli soldiers are being hampered and are unable on all fronts to pass into more than 150 meters at anytime into the rest of the Gaza territory. So, whilst they push forward, they also remain at a standstill or are being fought from the back which is hampering their advancement forward.

Again, military strategists say because of the tunnels underground – and by their own admission the Israeli army describes Gaza as “metro city” – Jewish soldiers are finding themselves fighting from the back. Hamas operatives are getting out of the tunnels and are facing them and forcing them to turn backwards bloody attacks occurring that result in soldier, artillery and tank losses. 

Thus, Israel’s land invasion seems to be tough from the start. The soldiers are fighting from three fronts but these do not appear to be effective. Instead, the land incursions are seen as secondary to the ariel bombardments that seem to be targeting and striking cities, town, villages non-stop, hospitals, mosques, churches and schools to the dismay of world organizations like the United Nations.

The Israeli military pilots seems to be merciless in their approach in targeting civilians which today have topped the 9,500-mark with over 23,000 injuries. In this perspective the land invasion must be seen as an appendage to warplanes and strikes from the sea. 

Dr. Marwan Asmar

Dr. Marwan Asmar holds a PhD from Leeds University and is a freelance writer specializing on the Middle East. He has worked as a journalist since the early 1990s in Jordan and the Gulf countries, and been widely published, including at Albawaba, Gulf News, Al Ghad, World Press Review and others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *