First, I will note that the IDF estimates concerning the difficulty of conquering and de-militarizing Gaza were not dissimilar to my own observations:
The Cabinet was reportedly shown a presentation in the course of the war, outlining the IDF’s prediction of what taking control of Gaza would involve. According to the military’s estimates, conquering Gaza would take months and ridding it of all weapons would take five years. The cost would be hundreds of soldiers killed and 10 billion shekels.
That’s why the Hama model, where speed is of the essence, was never a serious option for Israel. That leaves the de-escalation model. The problem? How to de-escalate with a seemingly implacable enemy mixed in amongst a hostile population.
- Stop providing the non-combatants with more reasons to fight. I don’t know the exact ratio, but every single time a civilian is killed, that generates between one and ten new enemy combatants. Israel says it has killed 453 Hamas militants out of 1,498 Palestinian fatalities; that ratio means it is almost certainly creating more future combatants than it is killing current ones. That means no more airstrikes or artillery. They are counterproductive.
- Outsource the occupation. Egypt desperately needs food and money, and it has no shortage of Arab soldiers who are not in the least bit sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas. That’s where some of those 10 billion shekels should be spent. Establish a number of outposts with well-paid Egyptian soldiers to provide basic policing and human intelligence. Support those outposts with rapid response IDF teams who will go in at night to act on the operable intelligence gathered in a manner essentially invisible to the local population. Immediately send those soldiers who are corrupt or show an inclination for violence, indiscipline, or being subverted back to Egypt and a big reduction in pay.
- Flood the civilian population with food and consumer goods, preferably distributed by the Egyptians and Fatah.
- Bring the civilian wounded to Israeli hospitals, give them first-rate care, and financially compensate the families of all civilian casualties.
- End the siege. Yes, Hamas will claim victory. See #7.
- Convince Egypt to accept small groups of families of those who are working with them the right to settle in an area of Egypt for which Israel will pay for the development. Deputy Speaker Feiglin wants to build another Jaffa, and his instincts are right, but it cannot be within Gaza itself. A place of refuge from Hamas will be needed, and it must be outside Israel. Protect it with Iron Dome.
- Ignore the militants. Don’t seek to talk to them, don’t pay any attention to their ceasefires or requests, don’t complain about their actions, and don’t respond to their PR salvos. The war at the moral level is won by actions, not words.
Remember, the idea of the de-escalation model is not to defeat the enemy, but rather to convince the bulk of the population it has no reason to fight and thereby isolate the militants, who can then be gradually picked off and made weaker over time. Due to the Israeli-Arab issue, the IDF probably can’t ever hope to win over the population by itself, but its Arab proxies could reasonably expect to do so. Israel probably can’t ever “win” in the medium term without resorting to measures the world would deem absolutely unacceptable, but it can hope to achieve relative safety and security for both sides.
It may sound counterintuitive, but Israel cannot achieve this relative peace as long as it is unwilling to accept more casualties than it causes. There are admittedly numerous flaws with this plan, chief among them the ability of the Egyptian soldiers to remain calm and disciplined in the face of the inevitable provocation. But it is much more likely to lead to success than the futile 2GW pound-and-ground approach.
Because 4GW is a process that resists conclusive engagements, 4GW counterinsurgency tactics must accept that reality and abandon any notion of seeking them. Such efforts are not only doomed to failure, but will usually make the situation worse in the long term. 4GW is based on the death-by-a-thousand-cuts model, so the correct way to fight back is to increase your ability to cut the other guy while reducing his ability to cut you.
Anyhow, those are just some thoughts from a complete military non-expert. And I think that’s enough about Zion for the time being. It’s time to turn our attention to the more serious conflict brewing in Eastern Europe.