30 July 2018

Iron Dome against fire kites- clearly asymmetric

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The Gaza situation and the conflict between Israel and HAMAS in this area are very much debated in mass media, and the international press agencies bring us daily news, yet not the best, about the events in this area. Starting with 30th of March the security situation got worse and it was continuously damaging, both parts of this conflict acting not to negotiation, but to escalation. The events in the last two weeks, the violent reactions of HAMAS militants, as well as the tough answer of the Israeli security forces and its military exercises deployed, showed that an incursion of the Israeli army in Gaza can start any moment, with tragic consequences for those involved, but, mainly for the Palestinian population living in enclave. As things are at the moment, a new war cannot be avoided.

Image source: Mediafax

Gaza, the biggest open-air prison in the world

Israel made movement restrictions over Gaza since the beginning of 1990. The restrictions augmented in June 2017, after Hamas took the control over this occupied Palestinian territory, when Israel demanded a land, maritime and air blockade over Gaza, for security reasons. Despite the last years calming restrictions about the blockade, almost 2 million Palestinians in Gaza remain “locked”, their free access to the rest of the territory and the exterior world being refused.[1]

The blockade that made Gaza the biggest prison in the world led to damaged living conditions in the Palestinian enclave and devastated the economy and impoverished the population leaving 60% of it without a job. Furthermore, the Palestinians in Gaza had three wars during this time. The last one, the one in 2014, produced almost 2.500 dead persons, destroyed thousands of dwellings and brought significant damages to water and electric energy alimentation infrastructure.

 

The violence exacerbation

The situation got worse lately, especially since December 2017, when the American president, Donald Trump, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since then, the Gaza habitants started the protests at the border with Israel, on each Friday.  

The events escalated and on 30th of March, for Earth’s day Celebration[2], when major protests were made and 17 Palestinians got killed by the Israeli troops deployed at the border with Gaza. Since then, the Israeli army forces (Israeli Defence Forces- IDF) consolidated their positions along the enclave, demanding at the same time, a closed military area. IDF were prepared to manage the risks generated by the manifestations of the almost 17.000 Palestinians, located in 5 locations close to demarcation fence.[3]

Although the majority of the protestant remained in camps, some groups of young people ignored the organizers callings to stay away from the fence and got close to Israeli’s position. IDF claimed that they shot the main instigators to keep away the crowd and to stop the demonstrators from throwing with fire bottles and rocks at the fence. The Palestinian part accused Israel for using the force in a disproportioned way by using tanks and sniper’s weaponry. Also, the witnesses claim that the IDF used drone to spread tears gas. The fact that the Israeli militaries were prepared to fight against an invasion of 100.000 Palestinians, estimated a day before, explains somehow the IDF disproportioned fight back. The ONU Palestinian representative, Riyadh Mansour, states that more than 1400 civil Palestinians were hurt during the confrontations. [4]

The demonstrations were to continue until 15th of May, a day that marked 70 years since Nakba (disaster/ catastrophe/ cataclysm – in Arabian language), a day that each year commemorated Palestine disappearing, in 1948 (when Israeli’s stated independency was proclaimed). Yet, another important event, which produced a lot of victims on the Palestinian part, and augmented the protest manifestation, was on 15th of May, when the U.S. moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinian protests against this relocation ended with the dead of 50 demonstrators, killed through shooting by the Israeli militaries. This time also, using war ammunition against the demonstrators by the Israeli army was really commented and criticized by the international mass media, which expressed its concerns regarding the continue excessive using of force by the Israeli troops.

According the dates that the ONU Offices for University Cooperative Housing Association (UCHA)gave, during 30th of March-18th July 2018, because of the en-masse manifestations that were produced in Gaza, at the border with Israel, there were killed 150 Palestinians, and another 16.500 were hurt. On the Israeli part were registered one dead and 8 hurt people.

 

Hamas flies kites  

The financial sanctions that the Palestinian Authorities put, the accentuated minimizing of freedom of movement against Gaza population, international isolation, decided by the majority of the occidental governments, plus the conflict with Israel, made the Islamism organization HAMAS (Harakat al-Muquawana al- Islamiyya), that leads Gaza, to trip up.

The Hamas group has no options and rides on deploying these protest manifestations to get the attention of the public opinion from the Arabian states, as well as the Western ones, over the situation from the besieged territory. Still, most of the times, these protests become violent actions and, as we saw, the Israel will not stop from using force.

Moreover, the HAMAS asymmetrical action model, by using along projectiles and missiles, kites and fire balloons, did not led to anything than force reactions from IDF and less support from the exterior world.  The kites equipped with various fire substances are launched over the Israel border to create arson on the extended areas that lands on. These equipment’s are more and more sophisticated; some of them have warheads delaying the ignition until it crosses the border, and other wear explosive than fire substances. The helium balloons replace sometimes the kites, as it can fly more in the depth of the Israeli territory. Since the half of June, the protestant launched more than 600 kites and fire balloons, which provoked over 500 arsons, a lot of them on farmlands or on woods. There were no victims, but there were farmlands arsons or woods on 3000 hectares area. The estimated damages are around 2 million us dollars, and the cost for shutting down the fire of around 550.000 us dollars. [5]

To fight back against these air methods that look just like toys, the Israeli militaries used mini drones to hit the kites or to tear them down.

 

IDF reaction- preparing to enter Gaza

The hostilities started again intensively on Friday, 13th of July, when HAMAS decided to revenge the dead of a militant killed by the Israeli bombs over the Rafah city, south of Gaza. HAMAS have over 200 missiles and artillery hits liftoffs over the Israeli territory. According to IDF, the air defence systems, Iron Dome, interfered 30 projectiles that were aimed to residential areas, the others hitting unpopulated areas from both parts of the border.

The HAMAS attacks made the Israeli militaries combats to supplement the air defence of Tel Aviv city with another Iron Dome missile system and to call reservists to manage the security situation. Deploying the Iron Dome system was part of the IDF training to counter act any possible long range missiles hits, which could hit the central area of Israel.

The dead of an Israeli soldier, the first killed in the fight from the border with Gaza since the last war in 2014, immediately made the Israeli security forces react, their operation against HAMAS being considered as the most intense campaign in that period. IDF responded with multiple air and land hits over the Palestinian enclave, which produced more victims (4 dead people and hundreds hurt), as well as significant material damages.

Immediately after the force actions, Israel’s message to Hamas showed up. On 16th of July, at the border with Gaza, IDF started a complex exercise, which was aimed for (according to Israeli military sources) the biggest district in Gaza, the city of Gaza, inhabited by almost 500.000 people.

In the morning of the same day, the IDF representatives, with the presence of the local media, stated that the exercise is a part of the training plan and it is not a reaction at the events that took place in that weekend, affirming that Israel is prepared to act drastically, if needed, to bring peace.

According to Isaeldefence.co.il, the exercise was led by the Air Forces commander and the 162nd Armor Division, composed by armored forces, artillery and infantry. The exercise was deployed on the south operations theatre, and taking the control over Gaza was simulated through actions deployed in Beer-Sheva city, in Israel.  

During the exercises air raids were deployed to support the land troops. They simulated anti-terrorism actions in opened areas, but also in urban crowded cities, managing threats coming from the underground, attacks with improvised explosive dispositive, the security of the logistical supplying routes and the distribution ones of the humanitarian handouts, evacuating the hurt ones and communicating with the local population.

Israeldefence.co.il quotes a superior rank officer from IDF, saying that, if the escalation of the security situation between Israel and Hamas will happen, the 162nd Division will be deployed at the border.

 

Who takes the responsibility for another war?

The exercise showed that the Israeli security forces are trained to act at any moment to occupy Gaza city, through a decisive action in order to assure taking the control and neutralizing, especially, the HAMAS leaders. But what did the Tel Aviv/ Jerusalem leaders really wanted to gain with such an intervention? Did IDF adapted its techniques, tactics and fight procedures from the lessons they learned after the war in 2014 with Gaza? Does the prime-minister, along with the members of the Security Cabinet/ National Security Ministerial Committee assume the consequences and the collateral loses of such an intervention? Is HAMAS ready for a new large scale confrontation? Does HAMAS have the necessary resources of such a confrontation? We will see…

If the economic and tourism loses, [6]as well as the critics coming from the international community, for the army actions against the civil, could be assumed, the security forces and the civil population human loses will be hard to handle.[7]

An analyze realized by Ali Jarbawi, in The New York Times[8], immediately made after the war in 2014 between Israel and Hamas ended, reveals some Israeli discouragement capacity constraints. According to this, Israel always looked to maintain and to fix its military and technological power and to rely on its army superiority against the Palestinians (and the Arabian world). Thanks to the victories in the previous conflicts, Israel developed an invincibility feelings especially that has one of the best trained army in the world. The last war in Gaza ended the Israeli invincibility myth. A superior technologic military force could not win over a resistance movement, whose fighters’ number is around a few thousands and whose equipment does not matter comparing with Israel’s advanced arsenal.

In the 2014 war, Israeli military leaders claimed that, despite the large scale losses, the air hits were selective and depended on the local population’s density. With the actual conditions, an eventual war will happen on really populated areas, and the HAMAS leaders know that Israel is not able to endure the costs of a campaign deployed on land, over a high populated area. They saw in 2014 the Israeli capacities limits and they will exploit it in a future conflict.

On one hand, in 2014, Israel could not reach its objectives, announced before the war started. Israel could not disarm the different resistance movements and transform Gaza in a demilitarized area, and neither could totally destroy the tunnel system or to install the calm and to guarantee their own citizens security.

On the other hand, there are no many reasons to claim that the HAMAS strategy could start a new war. Maybe the Palestinian organization considers this option and prepares for it, but the HAMAS leaders are conscious that the Gaza population will suffer a lot, and the actual crisis conditions will hardly endure a new armored conflict. Also, HAMAS is not sure that, after an eventual armored conflict, will exist anymore and will maintain its actual relevance.

We cannot pass over the possibility that exactly the difficult situation that the Palestinian population in Gaza is confronting with, as well as the lack of hope regarding the future and the Arabian brothers’ support, make the HAMAS leaders to start a war, as a last desperate option.

But, obviously, the part that will consider a new war will somehow assume the consequences. For Israel, the state’s existence and their own citizens’ security will be on the first place no matter the consequences, and for HAMAS, the main objective, on short and medium term, is Palestine’s liberation from the Israeli’s occupants.

What’s next? Besieging Gaza gets worse. The enclave Palestinians lost the hope of a decent living and a promising economy, which could get them out of poorness. Even the idea of the two states, Israeli and Palestine, together on Palestine’s historical territory or the Biblical Israeli, starts to vanish. The new fundamental law adopted by Knesset on 18th of July, immediately after the violence exacerbation at the border with Gaza, cancels the “two states” perspective. Additionally, this law will be a base to adopting some measures to reduce to maximum the Arabian minority’s rights.

On the other hand, neither the HAMAS’s actions, including the border protests, have a regional and international impact big enough to generate a pressure over Israel, to really care of. It is less probably that the Arabian states will have measures to effectively support the Palestinian, after these protests. The recent evolutions show that the intern, national issues that the Arabian world is confronting with, at the moment, represents the first issue for the Palestinians.

On the Twitter message of the Special Coordinator of ONU’s General Secretary for the Peace Process in the Middle East, Nikolai Mladenov, states: “Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right NOW! Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed.”[9]

But, “if you want peace, make war”.  It is exactly was is about to happen in the space between Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea.

 



[2] In 1975 sis Palestinians, citizens of Israel, were killed by the Israeli security forces after they protested against the detraction of the land they had.

[3]  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43603199

[4] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43603199

[5]  https://bbcwatch.org/tag/arson-attacks/

[6] The tourism was majorly affected in 2014- the traffic on the principal airport in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion, was stopped

[7] In 2014 were killed over 70 Israeli, a small number comparing with the 2.500 Palestinian that were killed at that moment.

[8] https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/05/opinion/ali-jarbawi-israels-lessons-from-the-gaza-wars.html

[9] https://twitter.com/nmladenov/status/1020356989011087360

 

 

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