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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Carl LaFong's picture

"Indigenous" Palestinaians? Seriously? Jews have CONTINUOUSLY lived in the Land for nearly 3500 years. GET A GRIP.'s picture

The Palestinians are the descendants of the Biblical Jews. Even David ben Gurion admitted that. You are supporting the overthrow of the children of Abraham by invaders from Europe. God isn't likely to let that stand. Why consort with the accursed?

Matt's picture

But there were less than 100,000 of them 100 years ago, and 5 million of them now.

downwiththebanks's picture

White European land-grabbers run Apartheid Israel.  I don't buy your millenia-old rationalle.  European Ashekenazis have been on an anti-Semitic purge of their 'holy land' for decades.

rich_wicks's picture

But some of us know what the 1922 and 1931 British Census counts reported, that Jews were a small minority in the area, where the Arab population was the majority, up until there as a HUGE influx of Jewish immigration to displace them:


I can trace my family lineage to before 1700 in the United States.  I guess I own all of it, according to your dumb, stupid, logic.

Rock the Casbah's picture

"What makes the lives of White European land-thieves more valuable than indigenous Palestinians made into refugees by UN decree?"

Put that way, i guess the answer is the Palestinians are just part of an inferior culture and race.'s picture




Israelis and Palestinians Killed in the Current Violence At least 6,617 Palestinians and 1,097 Israelis
have been killed since September 29, 2000.
Bazza McKenzie's picture

1300 rockets fired at their country in less than a year.  China would have acted after the first one, as would have Putin.  Even Obama would probably have done something by now if they were hitting the US.  Geez, even the Canadians would have got beyond hand wringing by the time they had 1000 incoming.

But those dastardly Israelis have just been letting those nice "Palestinian" people, the economic hub of the ME, throw away all those rockets.  Shame on them.

Matt's picture

Are you sure she isn't a British Tourist?

disabledvet's picture

What isn't stated here..and what is obvious to me but to none of you of "what are Israel's war aims?" We know the opposition's game plan: by whatever means necessary wipe Israel off the map...and by extension kill all the Jews. So that's not news. What of Israel then? I would argue German "lebenstraum" or "breathing space" is the primary war aim. Simply put "tunneling must be made prohibitively expensive via vat distances of Israeli occupied territories." That would mean the Sinai, Damascus and Beirut...the taking all three of which I would argue is the war aim. We shall see how well a "three State solution" can be effected. Securing population centers is no mean feat. But the chaos all around Israel does argue for the most aggressive approach.

downwiththebanks's picture

The claim that Palestinian children and grandmothers want to "kill all the Jews" is, of course, about as realistic as Iraq nuking the United States.  You're fear-mongering to justify the carpet-bombing of Apartheid Israel's prison colony.'s picture

Gazan women wield deadly white flags. How can Israel countenance such a threat?



IDF soldier sentenced to 45 days for death of mother, daughter in Gaza war



Military advocate general reaches plea bargain in the most significant event mentioned in UN Goldstone Report; Givati soldier was accused of shooting women who raised white flag.

JR's picture

It is obvious that you already know what Israel’s goal is although “breathing space” is better translated into expansion, domination, and exploitation. It is true, however, that many Americans are sheltered from the true purposes of the war: that Israel can stand no periods of peace without taking some action or its public officials (Likud) begin to lose support.

You know this, of course. But many Americans only read the censored MSM versions. Here, today, is an appeal for support of the truth from

News From Gaza You Won’t Get From American Media

As Israeli bombs fall on Gaza, the "news" from Gaza is filtered through the mainstream media – which is America's version of the Occupied Territories.

Israeli spokesmen are all over CNN, NBC, and ABC: coverage in this country is completely one-sided. Just as Israel is blockading Gaza, so the American media is blockading the real news from Gaza, where children are dying in Israel's "war on terrorism."

Where can you get the real news from Gaza?

Right here.

There's just one problem: we're running out of money, despite our winter fund drive. After an initial burst of donations, the stream has become a trickle. If this goes on much longer, we'll be in real trouble.

Break the media blockade and help get out the truth about Israel's war of aggression to our 1 million readers. Send in your tax-deductible donation today.

tsuki's picture

In other words, water. 

downwiththebanks's picture

Source: Al Manar TV 18-11-2012

Resistance in Gaza Reaches Further than Tel Aviv, Hits Israeli Warship

Shortly after the Palestinian resistance in Gaza hit an Israeli warship, fighters fired on Sunday rockets which reached further than Tel Aviv for the first time since the offensive started last Wednesday. Herzliya, 85 km far from Gaza, was hit by Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas’ military branch, Qassam Brigades.

A few hours earlier, the resistance fired an Israeli warship facing Gaza’s coast. Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack, as they issued a video tape showing how an Israeli fighter jet was downed by rockets fired two days earlier. The Zionist entity has been targeted by more than 770 Palestinian rockets and missiles since November 14, Israeli media sad. Rockets fired from Gaza on Sunday landed in occupied territories of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Malakhi, and Eshkol area, where up to 9 Israelis, including 3 occupation soldiers were injured. These operations are part of several achievements accomplished by the Palestinian Resistance.

On Thursday, the Qassam Brigades had downed an Israeli drone, calling its operation against the Israeli enemy “Baked Caly Rocks”, referring to a term in the holy Quran. Earlier on Thursday, Islamic Jihad’s military branch, al-Quds Brigades fired Iranian-made long-range missiles, Fajr 5, on Tel Aviv. Fajr 5 rockets are among hundreds of missiles the Palestinian resistance groups have fired on the occupied territories, breaching the Iron Dome which the Israeli officials bragged they processed it, and proving it is a futility.

Shortly after the assassination of Hamas’ commander Ahmad al-Ja’abari on Wednesday, several resistance figures threatened a harsh response, saying the Zionist Entity has opened “gate of Hell” on itself.

MSimon's picture

"These operations are part of several achievements accomplished by the Palestinian Resistance."


I do believe that after a month and a half of accomplishments they will be begging for peace. Just as Hezbollah did at the end of the Lebanon debacle for them. Israel made Hezbollah wait a week before giving in to theier "demands" for a cease fire.


It is amazing that the ZH folks are so taken in by Hamas propaganda. Hamas is the Federal Reserve of the Arab world.


And funny that West Bank Arabs are not joining in. Why? Well since they stopped making war their economic condition has improved greatly. They still talk shit but their preference is to do business.

holdingontomypants's picture

I hope Israel just finishes the job this time once and for all and eliminates Hamas and any other muslim terrorist groups. Any civilians still staying in Gaza do so at their own risk as they should be heading to Iran since Iran likes them so much let Iran feed and shelter them.

downwiththebanks's picture

You may want that, but Apartheid Israel lacks the capability.  They're too chickenshit to invade Gaza, because they know how badly they'd get smashed.  The little colony has lost its utility to the forces of colonialsim and empire (see Kissinger, Henry).

That's why they're crying to the heavens for a brokered cease-fire.

MSimon's picture



Maybe in public opinion.


Militarily? Not.


Apartheid Israel? Ordinary Arabs do better there than any other place in the Arab world.

DUNTHAT's picture



downwiththebanks's picture

And in Gaza, they say "bring it on!"

Apartheid Israel is impotent to do anything in Gaza (other than cry to the world for a cease-fire).  If they invade, their little Land-Grabbers won't even reach Beit Lahiya.  Meanwhile, the White European settlers are too terrified by bottle-rockets to even get to Starbucks.

MSimon's picture

This is just the softening up phase. Israel has declared that they intend to continue the war for 7 weeks. All the rest is theater.

Arthur Borges's picture

"Long range rockets"? Um, the rocket type seem to be the Fajr 5 with an effective range of 75km. Known operators are Iran, Syria and Libya.

Wasn't Ambassador Stevens moving Libyan weapons to the Syrian insurgents? To others? Were any weapons diverted? To where?

JamesBond's picture

i thought this war was going to be televised...  I hate having to get off my fat ass and read about it.



ekm's picture

Those who are anti-israel do not understand what an alliance is. We need Israel as much as Israel needs us.

We are civilized, they are civilized.

We want to advance science and arts, they want to advance science and art.

Our civilization is judeo-christian.


It's perfect match.

mantrid's picture

Israel continues its airstrikes on Gaza, and Gaza continues its long-range rocket attacks on major Israeli population centers


oh my, for a second I though Israel continues its attacks on major Palestinian population centers but apparently it's just airstrikes on Gaza

MSimon's picture

It all depends on Israeli restraint. A walking artilery barrage starting at the North end of Gaza could empty the strip into Egypt in a matter of days. Egypt is not interested in a buch of Palestinians. No country wants them. Israel for the time being is stuck with them.


There are limits as to how far Hamas wants to push the Israelis. Neither side wishes to "win", but if pushed hard enough the Israelis will do what they have to do.