Israel has succeeded in deploying a new form of warfare in urban environments. Why doesn't anyone want to see it?

Israeli soldiers at an evacuated UNRWA compound in Gaza City amid ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Israeli soldiers at an evacuated UNRWA compound in Gaza City amid ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.

©Jack Gus/AFP

Military strategy

Atlantico: Nearly six months into urban guerrilla warfare in the Gaza Strip, the IDF faces unprecedented challenges. In an article published in the US media outlet Newsweek, columnist John Spencer explains that this is necessary Take tactical lessons from military strategy Defense of Israel. In what ways is the IDF developing a new way of fighting in the context of urban warfare and what do you think are the main lessons of this conflict?

Jerome Bellistrandi: Even with the asymmetry between protagonists with the Sahel on the one hand using full-spectrum equipment, including heavy armored vehicles, the Gaza war is a high-intensity conflict both in terms of fire patterns and intensity. The other Hamas considers this conflict to rely on techno-guerrillas, using both the resources of urbanized and organized territory, but also using civilians as shields and allies. Gaza's territory is also well known to the IDF, which is subject to permanent surveillance despite its defeat on October 7. But actually digital knowledge is acquired and therefore allows intelligence to be exploited. Almost every building and piece of land was in the IDF database, not to mention the Hamas organizational chart. However, despite the large amount of information gathered, it was not enough to allow the forced release of the hostages.

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What are the main differences in the fighting methods used by the IDF compared to other conflicts in urban areas?

First, it should be emphasized that the distance between the Gaza theater and Israeli territory is short, facilitating logistical aspects that do not require long movements. This proximity is one of the defining characteristics of the IDF, which does not have to project itself far from its bases. Also, knowledge of the terrain and gaining intelligence allows for a much shorter decision-making loop, which is a factor in tactical effectiveness.

Despite technical, technological and numerical superiority, the IDF has been fighting the most difficult battles in the Gaza Strip. How can we explain the complexity of war in an urban environment?

This complexity is compounded by the highly urbanized nature of the Gaza Strip, the retreat of Hamas militants into the population, and the use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes contrary to international law (Hamas established schools and hospitals). and fighters). Moreover, Hamas does not seek a peaceful solution, but instead wants to continue the war as long as necessary, knowing that the war is asymmetric and that the IDF has the greater balance of power. Therefore, its mapping remains complex, not forgetting the tunnels.

On the international stage, Israel's humanitarian action in the Gaza Strip is causing great emotion. However, the IDF communicates a lot about its desire to protect civilian lives. How complex is it to combine smooth operations and people's safety?

Difficulty interweaving the battlefield with populated areas, the latter being exploited by Hamas. Also, the lack of exit doors, especially towards Egypt, prevents it from leaving the territory. The IDF tried to prevent it by using various sources, especially SMS messages, leaflets and social networks, but the intensity of airstrikes and fighting on the ground in critical territory only lead to a large number of victims. The question of distribution by Hamas or organized gangs was gradually added to this. Finally, there are films that present a victim narrative based on the real suffering of civilians and the communication war with Hamas.

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