Analysis: Move in hard or get out quick

The IDF has thousands of troops in Gaza, but their posture is largely static.

IDF gaza 248.88 CHECK CAPTION (photo credit: AP)
(photo credit: AP)
It is getting harder to shake the feeling that the government and army have been feeding the media a problematic line of information. We were told repeatedly over the past week that the IAF has managed to severely disrupt the Hamas military wing command-and-control apparatus, and that Hamas commanders on the ground [mostly under the ground in tunnels] are finding it hard to communicate with each other and send orders down the chain of command and out to operatives in the field. Then came the humanitarian ceasefire implemented yesterday and this theory started to look questionable. We saw Wednesday that between 1PM and 4PM not a single rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and that the rocket fire resumed promptly at 4PM. This clearly indicates that the Hamas military wing is very much able to communicate orders to its various positions, and that its coordination is doing just fine. We have been told that the Hamas military wing has been seriously weakened and that the organization, which has some 20,000 trained fighters, has lost some 350 of them. If they have been so severely weakened, why is it possible for the Izzadin al-Kassam Brigades to refuse the Egyptian ceasefire proposal and continue fighting? We were told that IDF ground forces made it to their positions last Saturday inside the Gaza Strip on schedule, and in many cases, ahead of schedule. We were told that Hamas resistance was minimal. It seems that Hamas deliberately allowed the IDF units to advance without much resistance. Hamas is currently positioned within the built-up and densely-populated areas and is trying to draw the IDF into the cities. Hamas is careful not to waste its forces and is not fighting aggressively as the IDF had estimated it would before the ground operation began last Saturday. So either the army's estimation was wrong - which shows faulty intelligence - or it was right. Either way Hamas is not playing by the IDF playbook and is rather thinking on its feet deciding not to engage the IDF. It is also clear that the timing of the military and diplomatic processes are not adequately coordinated. At this moment the IDF has thousands of troops inside Gaza holding positions and whose posture is largely static and awaiting orders. They are completing Stage 2 of their operation: taking up positions on the outskirts of the large cities, isolate Gaza City, and clean those areas of terrorist infrastructure. By all accounts, Stage 2 has exhausted itself and the army is waiting for further orders to either launch Stage 3 or pull back. They have not been ordered to embark on Stage 3: invading the large cities and causing maximum damage to the Hamas military wing, and likewise they have not been ordered to pull back to the Israeli border. In effect, our boys are treading water, marching on the same spot, not advancing, not retreating. The army wants to advance, not dither in a holding pattern which makes them predictable and vulnerable. Hamas will be able to take pot-shots at our soldiers because they know where we are operating and where we aren't. They have the luxury of doing this because they are not currently engaged by a massive IDF infantry attack. The political echelon is taking time to give the Egyptian-American ceasefire proposal a chance to formulate. The problem is that while the politicians are debating, the soldiers on the ground are not advancing, and the pressure on Hamas is weakening. There is only that much that the air force can do to keep the pressure on Hamas, which was the reason ground forces were deployed in the first place. The IDF needs to keep mobile, and push with overwhelming force onto its objective. If it is not being ordered to push forward with massive force, it just be pulled out quickly. Soldiers cannot be allowed to remain static in enemy territory.