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.




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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Randall Cabot's picture

"Isn't that the Palestinian Grand Mufti shaking hands with Hitler?"

Just what kind of racist was Hitler anyway? Shaking hands with the Grand Mufti, fighting along side Romanians, Hungarians, Italians, Slavs, Arabs, Berbers and Japanese for crying out loud! You jew supremacists need to get your story straight!'s picture

And don't forget these folks:


WW2 150,000 Jewish Soldiers Served Hitler and the Nazis

cbxer55's picture

We can debate Dresden until the cows come home. But Germany started it dropping bombs on London, firing missiles on London. What goes around, comes around. One good deed deserves another, etc. Germany started the war. We finished it in grand style.'s picture

And the Zionists invaded Palestine, not the other way around. So Israel is in that sense like Nazi Germany. Do you still agree that, "What goes around, comes around. One good deed deserves another, etc.?"

cbxer55's picture

After hamas started indiscriminately firing missiles into Israeli territory, threatening and even killing Israelis. 

Kick some ass Israel.'s picture

So the Zionists invaded Palestine in 1946 because of rockets fired by Hamas in 2012? That's kind of crazy, dude.

cbxer55's picture

Time travel is possible. No?

What's the world coming to anyhow? I thought you were talking about what is going on now, not something that happened 66 years ago. My mistake. 66 years ago, you'd think they would have gotten over it by now. Sheesh, talk about holding a grudge. Good probability most of the folks that were alive at that time are all pushin up daisies by now.

Takin a dirt nap, it's the new hip thing. We're all gonna be doing it soon enough.'s picture

If the trouble started this year then why has Israel blockaded Gaza for over 40 years?

nmewn's picture

Outside of being factually wrong...Gaza became independent in 1998 and then Fatah & Hamas went at each others throats killing each other...Israel didn't.

Gaza was a part of Israel until 1998. Not everyone in Gaza is a card carrying nutcase. Its the nutcases that make life tough on everyone else.'s picture

Israel occupied Gaza in 1967 and no international vessels entered port until 2008. Israel began blocking all international traffic again in 2010.

DaveyJones's picture

and God those nutcases are everywhere

downwiththebanks's picture

Sure thing, captain.  It's a perfectly independent penal colony.  They even get to elect their prison wardens.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

" I thought you were talking about what is going on now, not something that happened 66 years ago. My mistake. 66 years ago, you'd think they would have gotten over it by now."

Yeah, forgotten about just like all those folks from the Southern USA who feel compelled to fly Confederate Flags nearly 150 years after the Civil War. Cultural rifts die hard.

holdingontomypants's picture

crockett-you spew so much garbage on this site it is disgusting. Look at history for thousands of years and you see many land boundaries have changed as one nation conquered another. Does that mean we all should be waging war today based on what was onced owned by a country 100-500-1,000 years ago? This is a war based on ideaology of religion. Its this simple. Muslims don't want a non-muslim religious nation anywhere around them hence Israel being a constant focus of many muslim factions and country. Using the Palestine issue is just a farce for what the true issue is that I described.'s picture



Does that mean we all should be waging war today based on what was onced owned by a country 100-500-1,000 years ago?


That's my point. The Zionists invaded Palestine over a lie about past ownership. Glad you agree. Now if we can just get congress to stop sending our money to Israel so that we can spend it on our own needs instead of pointless wars to recapture lands lost in ancient times.

DFCtomm's picture

 You've obviously picked up your version of events from your college english lit professor. How did the Jews originally get kicked out of a land named Judea? The Koran even talks about the slaughter of Jewish tribes that lived on the Saudi Peninsula. This thing between Jews and Muslims has been going on a very, very long time, and it's not going to stop anytime soon.'s picture

I independently determined that I don't want to pay for your crap, mooch.

DFCtomm's picture

But that's not all you've said. You've talked out of your ass about things you don't understand instead of simply saying that I don't want to financially support Israel. That at least would be something we could agree on.

Randall Cabot's picture

"We can debate Dresden until the cows come home. But Germany started it dropping bombs on London, firing missiles on London. What goes around, comes around. One good deed deserves another, etc. Germany started the war. We finished it in grand style."

Actually Britain declared war on Germany first. And Britain bombed Germany, including civilian targets, first also.

caconhma's picture

Yes, just please tell it to NATO thugs killing innocent civilians in  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, etc!

Yen Cross's picture

I'm looking at the Sunday open.   The Certified ceiling of most jets is ?

   I'm short everything.

cbxer55's picture


"I'm looking at the Sunday open.   The Certified ceiling of most jets is ?"



Higher than you can go without oxygen!   ;-)

It's actually referred to in the aviation community as Service Ceiling.

Jack Burton's picture

It looks like Israel is going to go in again on the ground. They need the reserves called up to help secure the border with Southern Lebanon where the only real military force of any consequence is, that is Hezbolla.

Hezbolla has a huge inventory of rockets and missiles of long range. Their ground forces are totally defensive, aimed to defend Southern Lebanon against Israeli invasion. It is a good time for Israel to smash Gaza, as Hezbolla has forces committed in Syria, some 5,000 soldiers. I agree with the main article that hezbolla needs to maintain it forces for possible civil war in Lebanon. These two things in their rear, the Syrian war and the possible Lebanon civil war is bound to make Hezbolla very conservative.

For my money, Israel's only fear is the Egyptian reaction if they pile up bodies by the thousands in Gaza. The game is changed in Egypt, it is no longer a puppet of the USA, and thus Israel. Officially Egypt will not come to Gaza's military aid, but private parties and evn groups like the Muslim Brotherhood may move fighters and weapons into Gaza. A big IF.

I watch CNN to get a feel for Israel's policies as CNN is basically an offical arm of the Israeli government. Tonight they have the banner under the news casters saying "Possible ground invasion imminent". So that makes it a good possibility it starts soon. Israel has been claiming for some time now that Gaza is an Iranian outpost and an Iranian front in it's war on Israel. This lays the ground work for a possible strike on Iran, though I don't see that as likley right now.

Gaza is easy pickings and could be hammered to pieces with ease by Israel. The only force that borders Israel and is militarily capable is Hezbolla, and they have a lot on their plate right now in Syria and Lebanon. So the door is wide open for Israel to impose a final solution on Gaza. The only question now is, is how much killing is Israel prepared to do?  And what is Obama telling them? That I haven't a clue. Maybe begging them to only kill a few thousand? I have no idea. Israel doesn't need to listen to any American president anyways, as THEY tell the president what is going to happen, not the other way around.


h0oS's picture

I'm starting to hope Israel goes into Gaza. Hamas have had time to learn form Hezbolla and all they need to do is bog down the Israeli's long enough to disgrace BiBi and demonstrate to the Israeli public that supporting psychopaths comes at a price, the deaths of their conscripts and the disruption to their lives that they wreak on the Palestinians on a daily basis.

I don't doubt Hezbolla will allow rockets to be launched from the fugee camps once the Israelis are properly engaged in a ground assault. These strikes will maximise the discontent felt by the Israeli public at the inadequacy of the military assault to achieve anything beyond the murder of innocent Palestinians.  

downwiththebanks's picture

Good analysis--I think Apartheid Israel will make the time for Hizbollah to engage quite obvious.  The countown to Palesinian liberation has begun, methinks.

mayavision2012's picture

It was reported yesterday by @harryfear, a British journalist in Gaza now that two reports were received stating that some Israeli reservists allegedly are refusing to enter Gaza.  I am waiting for a confirmation but if this turns out to be correct, I would call them heroes for their moral stance.  The soldiers in our world are the ones who could change the tide in warfare if they would just rise up and refuse to fight in illegal wars for their power-hungry, profiteering racist masters.

Unfortunately, the Internet is now down there, depriving the victims of a voice.

Edit update:

Israeli Soldier Speaks Out On BBC Against the Crimes of His Government..."'s picture

Those who risk their reputations and their lives for peace rather than war are already blessed by God.

Matt's picture

Former Air Force Captain. It is nice that he is voicing his criticism, but it would have been better if he did it while he was in the military.

Vooter's picture

Can't wait until the buses start getting ripped apart in Tel Aviv--watching the Israelis get all weepy and apoplectic about that will be funny.


Terminus C's picture

yep, can't think of anything funnier than people getting blown up.  As a matter of fact, we should have explosions in every community around the world, you know, for the laughs.

downwiththebanks's picture

@ Jack Burton

I disagree.  As they learned in 2009, it might be easy for Apartheid Israel to drop bombs on babies and grandmothers in their wheelchairs from 25,000 feet.  Cowards bomb with bravery.

But when it comes to a ground invasion, their little Land-Grabbing army doesn't have the juice to accomplish ANYTHING.

The only hope the Zionist bedwetters have to peacefully go to their beaches and spas is if Hamas steers the Palestinian Resistance into a cease-fire.  Tactically, this would be dumb.  But that's why Hamas exists in the first place.

EvlTheCat's picture

Anyone else tired of endless fighting for peace?

Yen Cross's picture

  Z/H is sweetness. Animosity is questionable.

Ima anal sphincter's picture

Fuck Israel. Murderous evil country. Fuck Israel.

nmewn's picture

Could you be more precise as to where you want to fuck Israel?

h0oS's picture

I think the answer to your question is embedded in the name of the poster.

About as precise as Israeli military technology, somewhat...

nmewn's picture

"I think the answer to your question is embedded in the name of the poster."

Bout where I was at.

"About as precise as Israeli military technology..."

Oh I don't know, at least we've gotten past the "they're using white phosphorous gas on civilians!!!" meme.'s picture

When she takes the money she's got to give up the goods, no?

Yen Cross's picture

 You     Have the

    AUDICITY?  A person that I respect?    NMEWN has never "dis- respected"you?

    A life form like you, should know better!

nmewn's picture

We just disagree on this is all yen.

And he's wrong ;-)