Stratfor Update On Gaza, Israel, And Hezbollah

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Stratfor Global Intelligence,

Update On The Israel-Gaza Conflict

New intelligence indicates forces in Gaza may be manufacturing long-range rockets locally. If this is the case, a significant ground force offers the Israelis the best chance of finding and neutralizing the factories making these weapons. Meanwhile, Israel continues its airstrikes on Gaza, and Gaza continues its long-range rocket attacks on major Israeli population centers, though Israel claims its Iron Dome defense system has intercepted most of the rockets.

 

Analysis

 

Israel appears to be positioning itself for a ground operation, perhaps as early as the night of Nov. 17. The Israeli Cabinet on Nov. 16 approved Defense Minister Ehud Barak's request to call up 75,000 reservists, significantly more than during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. The Israeli army meanwhile has also sought to strengthen its presence on the borders with Gaza. Primary roads leading to Gaza and running parallel to Sinai have been declared closed military zones. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, self-propelled artillery and troops continue to stream to the border, and many units already appear to be in position.

 

During Operation Cast Lead, the Israelis transitioned to the ground phase around 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2009. Going in during dark hours allows the IDF to take advantage of its superior night-fighting equipment and training, including the use of night vision goggles and thermal optics.

 

The Israeli air force remained active throughout the night of Nov. 16-17, striking at targets across the Gaza Strip including key Hamas ministries, police stations and tunnels near the border crossing with Egypt. The IAF reportedly carried out strikes in Rafah's al-Sulan and al-Zahour neighborhoods, as well as east of the al-Maghazi refugee camp. According to IDF reports, the air force carried out a rapid and coordinated military strike, targeting approximately 70 underground medium-range rocket-launching sites in the less than an hour. The IDF claims direct hits were confirmed. The IAF will increasingly target Hamas militant defenses ahead of any ground invasion. Already the IAF has bombed militant defensive positions, particularly in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

 

Meanwhile, Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza have been actively striking back at Israel. More than 80 rockets have been launched from Gaza over the past 24 hours. Of the rockets launched Nov. 17, approximately 57 landed in Israel. According to the IDF, a total of 640 rockets have been launched since Nov. 14, with 410 landing in Israel. A long-range rocket was fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv at approximately 4:45 p.m. local time Nov. 17 but was successfully intercepted by the recently deployed Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system in the area. Hamas continues to target areas around Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheva, with the Iron Dome system intercepting five rockets over Ashkelon at 5:15 p.m. The majority of rockets launched from Gaza appear to be of shorter range than the Fajr-5. The IDF has stated its Iron Dome interceptors have so far successfully intercepted 90 percent of the rockets, though this may be an exaggeration.

 

One of the long-range rockets was intercepted by the newly installed Iron Dome battery in the Tel Aviv area. A Stratfor source has indicated that the rocket was not a Fajr-5, but was a locally manufactured long-range rocket in Hamas' arsenal.

 

If militants in Gaza are now able to locally manufacture their own long-range rockets that can target Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities, it would be a worrisome development for Israel. Thus far, Israel has been able to focus its efforts on limiting the supply of these rockets to Gaza through interdiction efforts, such as the alleged Oct. 23 strike on the Yarmouk arms factory in Sudan. But if Palestinian militants can manufacture long-range rockets in Gaza, it will be much more difficult for Israel to restrict Gaza's inventory of these rockets. Beyond rocket launch sites and caches, which Israel is currently targeting with its airstrikes, it would need to target production sites and those who would be responsible for manufacturing the rockets.

 

Furthermore, it will be significantly harder for Israeli intelligence to form an accurate picture of the number of these rockets locally constructed in Gaza. We have already seen that Israeli intelligence likely did not anticipate how many long-range rockets had escaped its first wave of strikes, and the fact that Hamas may have been producing these weapons could explain Israel's lack of complete information.

 

Hamas recognizes that these long-range rocket attacks have only increased the likelihood and intensity of an Israeli ground incursion. A significant ground force offers the Israelis the best chance of finding and neutralizing the factories making these long-range rockets as well as the shorter-range Qassams. Hamas and the other militants therefore are actively preparing their defenses for the anticipated incursion and are likely laying improvised explosive devices, setting up road blocks and defensive emplacements and sorting out their ranks and tasks.

 

Hamas has already announced that its Al Murabiteen units, consisting of five brigades spread across Gaza, will be concentrated in the border region to limit Israeli penetration into the Gaza Strip. Learning from Hezbollah's example in 2006, special units of Hamas are relying heavily on tunnels to maintain communications. Should Israel be drawn into more densely populated areas of Gaza in pursuit of weapons storage and manufacturing facilities, Hamas has also reportedly prepared its suicide bombers, known as Istishadiyeen, to raise the cost for Israel in an urban battle.

Hezbollah Remains Wary amid Israeli Operations in Gaza

While Hamas is preparing for an Israeli ground assault into Gaza, Hezbollah's movements on Israel's northern frontier bear close watching. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Nov. 17 called on the Muslim world to retaliate against Israeli actions in Gaza. Naturally, many are looking in the direction of Lebanon, where Hezbollah, Iran's most capable militant proxy, could open a second front against Israel.

 

Though Iran would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the spectrum of its militant proxy strength, especially after supplying Hamas with the long-range Fajr-5 rockets that have been targeting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hezbollah will likely be extremely cautious in deciding whether to participate in this war.

 

 

The group's fate is linked to that of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad; should Syria fracture along sectarian lines, Lebanon is likely to descend into civil war, and Hezbollah will have to conserve its strength and resources for a battle at home against its sectarian rivals. Indeed, Hezbollah has already been preparing for such a scenario by seizing control of villages along the Orontes River Basin in order to maintain connectivity with Syria's Alawite community.

 

At the same time, if Hamas is able to bog down Israeli ground forces by drawing them into a war of attrition in densely populated Gaza City, Hezbollah may see a political opportunity to burnish its credentials as the region's leading "resistance" movement. In this case, Hezbollah would likely monitor the situation until it could be assured that Israeli forces are sufficiently constrained on the Gaza front before it begins attacks on the northern front. Hezbollah is not looking for a major confrontation with Israel, and the tens of thousands of additional Israeli reservists called up compared to Operation Cast Lead suggest that Israel is already preparing for a two-front contingency. If Hezbollah does decide to participate in the war, it would be carefully timed to drive an already embattled Israel toward a cease-fire so that Hezbollah could claim a largely symbolic victory at relatively little cost.

 

With Hezbollah uncertain how the Israeli-Hamas battle will play out, the group appears to be taking a cautious approach. Stratfor has received indication that Hezbollah has prevented radical Palestinian groups in southern Lebanese refugee camps from firing rockets into northern Israel. In addition to an increase in the number of patrols by the Lebanese army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been deploying numerous operatives in plainclothes along the border to monitor the situation. Hezbollah has also installed cameras around the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon to monitor traffic from the camp to its outside environs. Whereas Hezbollah completely controls movement into and out of Palestinian refugee camps in the deep south, Ain al Hilweh lies completely within a Sunni neighborhood. For this reason, Hezbollah has rented a number of apartments around the camp, especially in al Ta'mir area, to keep a close watch there.

 

For now, Hezbollah appears intent on not allowing the battle in Gaza to spill into southern Lebanon. It remains to be seen whether that calculus would shift should Hamas succeed in wearing down Israeli ground forces.

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Urban Redneck's picture

Propaganda via the internet and social media is hardly a proprietary tactic anymore.

To claim otherwise one would either have to be dumb as a brick, a reincarnation of Rip Van Winkle, or a propagandist themself.

Vooter's picture

Why is it overwhelming? I think it's fun. Tormenting pro-Israeli posters is easy and hilarious--it's just like that website that torments the Nigerian 419 scammers (who I think are actually more than a few evolutionary levels above the pro-Israeli posters)...

Vigilante's picture

Could you get me connected with this racket?

I am doing it for free now..I wouldn't mind some remuneration

downwiththebanks's picture

No you're not.  You're only illustrating the logical impotence of an argument predicated on 3000 year old fairy tales and an Invisible Sky Goblin who watches over everything you see and do, demanding genocide.

h0oS's picture

I don't believe Israeli reporting of their casualties, I think they are far higher than the numbers indicated so far. Also very little information on injuries.

If BiBi is yahoo enough to commit troops to a land assault of Gaza I see him loosing the election on the grounds of a major military defeat.

duncecap rack's picture

Not poker captain, chess

ShortTheUS's picture

I smell a false flag brewing...

A Lunatic's picture

I thought that same thing once, under entirely different circumstances. Upon further reflection however, it turned out that I had simply shit my pants. Smells can be funny that way.........

ShortTheUS's picture

So it's not conceivable that if Hezbollah decides to get involved, Israel carpet bombs one of its own cities and blame it on an opportunistic Iran trying to open up a third front?

A Lunatic's picture

Since the analysis of A pants shitting (a one time offense during a false false flag event) Lunatic is of minimal practical value, I refer you to none other than the (quite sane, and has never shit his pants) Jack Burton who has provided a noteworthy commentary on that exact issue about twelve or so posts down............

knukles's picture

I always figured the false flag analogy more like a fart with chunks.

infinity8's picture

My best friend is a plumber (on paper and beyond). He only does new build for a long time but not always. Best line ever and why he's my best friend: "people get mad when they smell their own shit" - I shit you not.

L0nG-DoNg-SiLv3R's picture

That was the first really good laugh I've had all day, and I've had a long, shitty day. Thanks!

infinity8's picture

Sounds like a guy who works for a living. Cheers, mate !!

Henry Hub's picture

The two cardinal rule for a plumber are: Remember shit flows down hill and keep you fingers out of your mouth.

Yen Cross's picture

 let's per'forate "Iron Shield".   I have friends over there.  I'm Christian!

Rock the Casbah's picture

Isn't firing missiles into population centers with absolutely no intent to strike a militarily significant target a crime against humanity?

Jack Burton's picture

Everything is anti-semitic except "Go Israel, kick some rag head ass!"

Sometimes I feel left out being of Swedish ethnic heritage. Somebody must hate us too. Other than the Finns I mean!

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

I never cared for those rubbery little fish, if that helps.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

I like IKEA because it gives me a chance to exercise my right to assemble.

SgtShaftoe's picture

Yes it is, unfortunately, neither side has taken the moral high ground in tactics, which is required for a lasting victory. Civilians and innocents will simply continue to be put through the grinder until someone has the fortitude to do what is right.

tickhound's picture

Moral high ground in tactics??  WTF izzat?  And it's a requirement for lasting victory???  Fortitude to do "right?"

Oh man that place is fucked.

 

 

 

knukles's picture

Sorta like the "End jusitifes the means" mode of thought.

SgtShaftoe's picture

It's lessons learned and counterinsurgency fucking doctrine! Anyone who actually knew a damn about warfare would know that. Hence the Israeli IDF, no matter how effective their skill advanced weapons and tactics, their entire strategy is a vengefull, amateurish, leaderless bloodbath. Factions in Hamas which target civilians suffer the same lack of humanity.

If one side was able to decisively take the moral high ground, international support would start swaying. These conflicts are about perception

bunnyswanson's picture

http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=437455402987372&set=a.436732966392949.107828.100001687475461&type=1&theater

 

The side with the nuclear arsenal...the side which maintains one of the largest military forces in the world, the side which is the 3rd largest arms dealer globally has a slight upper hand - wouldn't you agree?  The are in an "open air prison" with road blocks and a barrier wall in place.  The palestinians are fighting for their life.  Now, the water towers are being targeted. 

Israel is committing mass murder and the world is now awake to the callous minds ruling the state.  All for an election no less. 

downwiththebanks's picture

Nasrallah calls the Zionist Land-Grabbers "an army without soldiers".  Apartheid Israel has a big, bad army until they have to actually fight like soldiers rather than untouchable video-game players.

That's why they get their ass kicked whenever boots touch down.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

 

 

Isn't firing missiles into population centers with absolutely no intent to strike a militarily significant target a crime against humanity?

 

Yes.  Isn't imprisoning 1.7 million people within a 141 square mile area with no connection to the outside world a crime against humanity? A blockade is an act of war.

Matt's picture

To be fair, there wasn't nearly that many people when they got put there. The Trouble with Tribbles ...

If you look at population over time, it looks like the Israelis and Palestinians have been in a breeding race for the last ~70 years.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

The Palestinians are winning.

 

 

Jewish population in Israel is declining Despite a million immigrants over the past two decades, the percentage of Jews in the Israeli population is declining.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/jewish-population-in-israel...

Spitzer's picture

So why doesn't the Arab world take them in then ?

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

Why doesn't Europe take you in? Then I can have your house.

Vigilante's picture

...and Egypt is blockading from the south...

..but we never hear abt it..

I wonder why

nmewn's picture

"Isn't firing missiles into population centers with absolutely no intent to strike a militarily significant target a crime against humanity?"

Not if you believe a mass murderer is your messiah.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

So those were Muslim crews in the British and American aircraft that bombed Dresden? Who knew?

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

So those were Christian crews that bombed the open city of Dresden? Wouldn't that make Jesus a mass murderer by your line of reasoning?

 

"Isn't firing missiles into population centers with absolutely no intent to strike a militarily significant target a crime against humanity?"

Not if you believe a mass murderer is your messiah.

nmewn's picture

Isn't that the Palestinian Grand Mufti shaking hands with Hitler? Didn't he conscript/consign Arab men & boys into Hitlers Waffen SS to fight & die?

Why yes, yes it is...and he did, with a smile.

//////////////

Ahhh, I see the Aryan Master Race Storm Junkin has come with you...ROTFL!!!

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

Do you or do you not believe that those who bomb non-military targets as the Allies did in Dresden are worshipers of a mass murderer? You were so sure of it just a moment ago.

 

"Isn't firing missiles into population centers with absolutely no intent to strike a militarily significant target a crime against humanity?"

Not if you believe a mass murderer is your messiah.

nmewn's picture

Do you or do you not believe that was the Grand Mufti shaking Hitlers hand and agreeing to send Arab boys & men to fight alongside Hitler?

It goes even deeper Crockett...what did Hitler promise the Grand Mufti for his allegiance...hmmm?

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

I really don't know a thing about this Grand Mufti. Is he some kind of Muppet? Are he and Tickle-Me-Hitler in Gaza right now?

nmewn's picture

Yes he is, babbling incoherently in a bunker, about to be bombed for the exact same reason Hitler was.

Another Ron Zacapa and I'm gonna call it a night while waiting for the Hitler youth to grab whats left of the panzerfausts ;-)

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

So do you believe that those who target civilian targets like the Allies did in Dresden are worshipers of a mass murderer or not? Is it possible that "our" side is guilty of exactly the same kind of things you perhaps rightfully accuse "their" side of doing?

nmewn's picture

Are you really trying to compare atheists & Catholics who flew over Dresden to Hitler's "thousand year reich"?

Really?

The Allies didn't have addle brained concentration guard "rejects" (formed into units) following along behind the Wermacht, picking up civilians, to perform experiments on, force labor from and generally create mass death and misery beyond what war already is.

Really dude, learn some history...my glass is now empty and this is getting ridiculous again.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

Look, dude. The Palestinians shouldn't be firing their piss poor rockets indiscriminately. Israel should stop acting as if they can do what they want when they want no matter who gets hurt. And I shouldn't be forced to pay for any of it.

 

Survivor: Shell casings found on deck afterward were marked "Ft. Dix, New Jersey" indicating that our men were killed with munitions supplied to Israel by the United States.

 

http://www.ussliberty.org/voices.htm

DFCtomm's picture

So you're commenting about a political situation in an area that you readily admit that you don't understand. Your name must be Bush.

CrockettAlmanac.com's picture

Please detail how Hitler's meting with the Grand Mufti has effected the Gaza invasion.