Israel-Gaza violence: 9 days in, but what’s next? – analysis
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Israel-Gaza violence: 9 days in, but what’s next? – analysis

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Two weeks into Operation Guardian of the Walls and the IDF has achieved a number of its goals in the Gaza Strip, destroying Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets that took the terror groups years to build up.
The violent escalation that began on Monday with a salvo of rockets toward the capital on Jerusalem Day led to a massive bombardment by the Israel Air Force of strategic assets belonging to the terror groups.

In the past week, the IDF has hit hundreds of targets: rocket launchers, rocket manufacturing centers, production and storage sites, military intelligence offices, drones, residences of commanders and Hamas’s naval commando unit, where Israel has destroyed most of the group’s infrastructure and weaponry including several autonomous GPS-guided submarines that can carry 30 kg. of explosives.

The military has also destroyed hundreds of kilometers of underground tunnels used by Hamas as command and control centers, as well as both offensive and defensive tunnels known as the “Metro.”

The “Metro” has been attacked three times, and more sections are set to be hit in the coming days to prevent Hamas from using it in the future.

The IDF also has killed over 150 PIJ and Hamas members, many of them considered senior commanders or irreplaceable in their roles, especially those who led the R&D in the missile projects. The IDF has made it clear that anyone who belongs to the group, including Hamas political leader in the Strip Yahya Sinwar and the group’s military commander, Mohammed Deif, are targets.

The majority of the strikes have been from the air, with the navy and artillery batteries also hitting targets when called on. Ground forces have not been called up, and very likely will not be called up to enter Gaza.

Using precision-guided missiles to strike the targets, the number of Palestinians killed – 213 including 61 children and 36 women as of Tuesday night – is much lower than it was during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed.

The IDF maintains that the majority of fatalities in Gaza belong to either Hamas or PIJ and that it does its utmost to evacuate noncombatants from buildings before it strikes.

The IDF has also struck high-rise buildings home to hundreds of civilians and offices of foreign media, maintaining that they were hit because they contained military assets and infrastructure belonging to the terror groups.

On Sunday during one strike targeting Hamas military infrastructure under civilian homes in the upscale neighborhood of Rimal, more than 40 Palestinians, including a one-year-old and a three-year-old were killed.

Despite precision-guided missiles, as of Tuesday morning some 58,000 Gazans have had to leave their homes, 42,000 of them living in 50 UNRWA schools spread across the blockaded enclave.

At a press conference on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi said “Hamas made a serious mistake and did not calculate us correctly,” and that the IDF response had been following “a pre-prepared plan… with several stages, some of which have been completed and some which lie ahead.”

THOSE STAGES, which will likely see continued bombardments on military infrastructure belonging to the groups, will not be able to destroy all the rockets in their arsenal: a combined 14,000 short-, medium- and long-range missiles. While all Hamas leaders are in the sights of IAF pilots, Israel will also be unlikely to dislodge Hamas from power.

If it does, who will replace them? PIJ? Then what? Isn’t the “devil we know” better than the “devil we don’t know?”

And as the precision munitions level military infrastructure belonging to the terror groups, it is also leveling the homes of noncombatants, destroying roads, sewage and water pipes and more civilian infrastructure that after this round is done will need to be rebuilt.

Egypt has already designated $500 million in funds for the Gaza rebuilding effort, but that’s a small tip in the piggy bank for the amount of funds that Gaza needs to be rebuilt. And how much of that will be siphoned off by Hamas to rebuild its weapons and tunnels destroyed by Israel?

So two weeks into the fighting, what else can the military achieve? Can this operation bring about peace in the Middle East? Unlikely. But it will very likely bring a few more years of quiet until the next round.

But what it has to do in order for that quiet to last longer than seven years, is to make sure that the civilian infrastructure receives the funds allocated to it. There needs to be oversight, because if not we will just see another round, a more violent one, a deadlier one, in just a few more years.

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