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What Israel will face in Gaza Hamas is concealed within a network of fortified tunnels

'The deep tunnels — too deep for aerial bombing — that Hamas has been excavating and lining in concrete for more than 10 years' (Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'The deep tunnels — too deep for aerial bombing — that Hamas has been excavating and lining in concrete for more than 10 years' (Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


October 17, 2023   4 mins

When conventional armies take on enemies who have neither uniforms nor overt bases, and who impolitely refuse to assemble in conveniently targetable mass formations, the inevitable problem is how to find them. Indeed, such a task is often impossible, a reality that otherwise intelligent tacticians have mysteriously refused to accept, from Napoleon in Spain to the US in Afghanistan.

In all their wars, that is the one error the Israelis have never made, and they are not about to start now. Aside from the Fauda teams before they defected to Netflix, and the undercover Shin Bet agents who can track down individual leaders, the Israelis have been content to remain on the defensive. Any offensive actions are taken only against clear enemies in recognisable garb, even if not actual uniforms, as well as physical facilities that can be spotted from the air, such as the recently destroyed Iranian rocket depots in Damascus and Aleppo.

In Gaza, by contrast, there are no visible military facilities, while Hamas fighters can shed their fashionable black outfits and dress like civilians. This will not, however, frustrate the Israeli offensive, which still has fixed, immovable targets. These are the deep tunnels — too deep for aerial bombing — that Hamas has been excavating and lining in concrete for more than 10 years, using construction equipment and vast quantities of cement donated by different governments and international organisations “to house refugees”. As a result, Gaza’s refugee “camps” do not contain a single tent. Instead, they are home to a forest of high-rise apartments, which is undoubtedly a good thing, except for the fact that both machines and cement were also diverted for tunnelling on the largest scale.

These tunnels house relatively sophisticated rocket-assembly lines, motor-assembly works, sheet metal and explosives’ stores, and warhead-fabrication workshops. More tunnels house Hamas command posts and its ordnance stores of small arms, mortars and rockets. Even deeper tunnels house its leaders’ lodgings and headquarters. Finally, there are the exfiltration tunnels, though there is no sign that they were used in the October 7 attacks, perhaps because their exits had been detected and blocked long before.

When Israel’s forces enter Gaza, they will engage any enemies who resist them, but they will not go looking for them. Their task is to escort combat engineers to their job sites — the camouflaged places from which tunnels can be accessed. How do they know where these entry points are? While Israel’s aerostats with cameras, satellite photography and the pictures generated by radar returns cannot reveal tunnels, they have been used to monitor where cement-mixer trucks have stopped over the years. They cannot pinpoint tunnel entrances by doing so, but they can at least identify places worth exploring with low-frequency, earth-penetrating radars or simple probes.

The obvious danger here is that, even before the escorting troops and combat engineers descend underground to fight off Hamas’s guards and place their demolition charges, they will keep losing casualties to snipers and mortar bombs on their way to the sites.

To minimise the danger, however, the Israeli army can rely on the most heavily protected armoured vehicle ever developed: the Namer infantry combat vehicle. As well as having significantly more armour than any other combat vehicle anywhere in the world, it uses an active defence weapon to intercept incoming anti-tank missiles and rockets, and also has machine guns to fight off infantry attackers. In urban combat, tank crews firing machine guns from the top of their turrets are desperately vulnerable, but the Namer’s crew remains “buttoned up” inside the vehicle, relying on TV screens to see the outside world and operate their weapons remotely. In 2014, the last time Israeli troops fought in Gaza, most were riding thinly armoured M.113s, which were easily penetrated by RPG anti-tank rockets, with some 60 soldiers killed and hundreds wounded. Not this time.

After they reach the suspected tunnel sites, the Namers will line up to form a perimeter — an improvised fortress — to protect the combat engineers as they go about their task. It is very likely that there will still be skirmishing before, during and after each de-tunnelling operation, with Hamas mortar teams in action, as well as snipers hidden in ruins. Fortunately, the Israelis will have their 70-ton Namers, as well as their post-2014 street-fighting training, to protect them.

And they will need that protection, as dismantling Hamas’s tunnel network will take time: the one certainty in all this is that the planting of demolition charges cannot be done quickly without suffering many fatalities. This means there will be at least two weeks of war in the Gaza strip — and even this optimistically assumes that the entire tunnel system in the evacuated northern part can be cleared in a week, allowing the Israelis to do the same in the southern sector, after evacuating the southerners and sending home the northerners. The Government’s vow to persist until the destruction of Hamas will be tested every day.

Meanwhile, with the Gaza battle imminent, an entirely separate war might start on Israel’s northern border. Since Hamas’s surprise attack, the very large bombardment capacity of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon has loomed over Israel’s response. Hezbollah, after all, has a truly huge quantity of rockets — 100,000 is the conventional number, as well as dozens of missiles that can be aimed with much greater precision.

If the rockets were launched all at once, technically not impossible, or even in closely spaced volleys, their sheer number would overwhelm Israel’s advanced Iron Dome batteries, many of which are in the south. Faced with such a barrage, Israel’s much smaller number of  longer-ranged, more advanced David’s Sling interceptors would play a crucial role in protecting high-value targets such as hospitals, oil refineries, microprocessor factories and military installations. (Civilian housing has a lower priority because every house and every apartment has an effective bomb shelter.)

But numbers matter, and it’s not inconceivable that Hezbollah’s bombardment could become an example of quantity becoming quality. This would allow Hezbollah’s ground troops to penetrate Israeli territory just as Hamas did from the south. As it happens, the otherwise overwhelmed villagers and a few guard soldiers in the south killed almost 1,500 Hamas attackers, almost as many as Israel’s total killed, and Hezbollah’s raiders would likely share the same fate.

This will no doubt play on the mind of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, who already has good reason to avoid another war with Israel. After the last one, in 2006, he openly confessed that if he had known how much damage the Israeli air force could inflict, he would not have started the war. Moreover, even though Iran supports Hamas politically, the fact remains that its intense Sunni Islamist ideology classifies Hezbollah’s Shi’a followers as heretics deserving of punishment and exclusion until they repent.

Yet none of this means that the threat of Hezbollah can be ignored. After all, with Hamas still fighting in Gaza, Hezbollah can’t be seen to be doing nothing. As all eyes turn to the South, Israel’s strategists know very well that, while the fight for Gaza’s tunnels is today’s battle, tomorrow’s will come from elsewhere.


Professor Edward Luttwak is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history, and international relations.

ELuttwak

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
9 months ago

Hamas knowingly puts its own civilians into the firing line. They want the Israelis to retaliate and kill civilians in the collateral damage , because it encourages apologists to try and draw a moral equivalence. Hamas has dug tunnels under the streets of Gaza, specifically under residential areas. Its headquarters and bomb factories are housed under schools and hospitals. Hamas boasts of this.
They know they are less likely to be hit because they know the Israelis will be very reluctant to bomb a school or hospital – but if they do, well then, that’s even better for Hamas. They know their own people will hate the Jewish state even more and they’ll elicit support from the know-nothing, bien pensant Liberals of the West.
Any attempt to draw moral parity between the people who deliberately murder women and children and the people who are attempting to avoid killing civilians, but cannot when Hamas are deliberately hiding behind women and children, is as absurd as it is chilling.
Those immoral clowns who insist on “Proportionality” when it comes to Israel’s reaction to the atrocities perpetrated against them, never seem to realise that copying Hamas tactics wouldn’t work in this case. Who thinks a Human Shield would be any sort of deterrent to Hamas?
A Human Shield is only an effective deterrent to those who value human life, who have some moral code. Israel wants to defeat Hamas. If they could do so without harming civilians, then they would. Hamas wants to defeat Israel, but more importantly they want to eradicate Jews. Slaughtering Jewish civilians is the point.
Hamas are heartless monsters, they are not going to be dissuaded from their goal. They have been indoctrinated in Jew-hatred since birth. No negotiation is possible. What rational, temporal argument could one put forward that might countermand a spiritual, holy mission, if that is what the jihadi believes his actions to be? They are monsters and so are those who sent them.
What is most terrifying is that their sponsors, the Iranian mullahs, are on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power. In the wake of this hideous attack, Iran’s leaders congratulated Hamas, saying “We will stand by the Palestinian fighters until the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem.” What they mean by liberation is, of course, another holocaust.
Anyone who tries to claim any equivalence here is either ignorant or morally bankrupt.

Last edited 9 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

So the answer is to collectively punish the whole of Gaza by cutting water and electricity? With a war minister calling Palestinians ‘human animals’ and residential blocks and mosques being attacked it doesn’t seem that a huge effort is made to avoid killing civilians. For decades Palestinians in the West Bank have been used to being taken in the middle of the night in raids and put in prison without any due process, so that says something about Netanyahu’s (I don’t say Israel because I know how much the Prime Minister is hated by many within Israel) regard for civilian rights.
I’ll agree that the Hamas attacks were uniquely sadistic and seem worse than Netanyahu’s in nature (though not by degree, if you consider that 96% of killings over this whole conflict have been Palestinian).

Last edited 9 months ago by Desmond Wolf
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
9 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

A few points:
The war minister referred to Hamas as “Human Animals”, not Palestinians. Frankly, I’d agree with his assessment. But why, I wonder, do you concern yourself with hurty-words spoken by Israelis against murderous terrorists, yet don’t seem to decry the far more repulsive language used routinely by Hamas (and Palestinians) against ALL Jews?
Secondly, Gaza would be able to service its own water and electricity needs if Hamas used the aid (given to them specifically to fund such infrastructure projects) in the way it was intended, rather than using such monies for their own nefarious ends. Hamas propaganda videos proudly show them digging up water and sewage pipes to be refashioned into rocket tubes. Where is your complaint about the collective punishment meted out against Palestinians by Hamas? Apologists like you talk of Gaza as an open air prison – it may well be – BUT WHO ARE THE JAILERS? It is Hamas that is stopping Gazans moving south, as the israels have warned them to do. Israel is tring to minimise suffering. Hamas is looking to maximise it.
I have sympathy for innocent Palestinians caught up in this, who wouldn’t? But the blame lies squarely with Hamas. Israel has every right to try and kill Hamas leaders and neutralise them as a force. Thanks to the tactics adopted by Hamas they have ensured that Palestinians will suffer – they don’t care how many. Yet apologists lay the responsibility on Israel? How can anyone be morally serious and try to make that case?
You criticise Israel for sealing the border with Gaza and not sending in fuel and supplies. Maybe look at a map, you’ll notice that Gaza has another border, one with Egypt. Where is your condemnation of Egypt? Why don’t they open their border to Gazan refugees and offer them humanitarian aid?
Israel is at war. Why do you imagine they should be responsible for supplying fuel and aid – that Hamas would surely steal for itself – even while they fight to destroy them. Meanwhile Egypt, their co-religionists, can simply turn their back without any condemnation from western liberals?
So many comments I’ve read over the last several days worry me greatly, in that anti-zionism quickly reveals itself to be a tissue-thin cover for anti-semitism. Why should Israel – more properly, why should Jews – be held to a higher standard by the rest of the world than any other country in conflict?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Interesting points.
1) There seems to be some chinese whispers going round re the specifics of the ‘human animals’ quote. Some sources seem to say it was applied to Hamas (so fair enough if you thought that), others that it was the Palestinians as a whole (see source 1). Our own media by the way is also trying to poison the discourse in favour of the Israeli government (mark my words – I’m never describing Israelis as a whole or talking about a whole country since many of them, like me in the UK, have a government they do not want to be to be identified with (source 2)) where Sky news and the BBC have totally mischaracterised the words of Palestinian representatives (source 3) claiming the PLO were saying that ‘Israel had it coming,’ when they actually said that they ‘could have seen it coming,’ (as are many in Israel) and calling pro-Palestine peace protests ‘pro-Hamas,’ although maybe you don’t see a difference? (source 4)
But back to the war minister: I would say it’s better to move beyond the language and look at his actual plan, which is to shrink the size of Gaza. This is apparently not legal under international law so tell me why that’s ok. (source 5)
2) Your point about Hamas being the real jailors of the Gazans seems a fair one (I know less about how aid to Gaza is used) and if the Israeli government are engaging in this war to rid Gazans of their tyrannous overlords then that would indeed be laudable, though could you point me towards some evidence of this current Israeli government making any effort to make life for Palestinians easier? My hunch is that Hamas have calculated with their attacks that an ironfisted response from Israel will both increase international sympathy for the Gazans and embitter their own people against Israel. I’m no military strategist but I’m wondering if there might be more positive and peaceful options available for reducing Gazan support for Hamas. On the matter of Israel’s enmity with Hamas there is also the small point that the Israeli government did support Hamas as an Islamic counterweight to its more secular rivals in a divide and conquer stragegy until about 20 years ago (source 6). I don’t know how many Gazans are aware of this, but if they are they may be forgiven for thinking that the Israeli government’s professed targetting only of Hamas really extends to the whole Palestinian people.
3) Not sure why you think I believe that the blame lies squarely with Israel in the case of the last two weeks. I can think that the blame lies with Hamas (clearly) and also think that the Israeli government needs to respond proportionately and not think that being given 24 hour’s notice before a full on invasion counts as real concern for a civilian population.
4) Your last three paragraphs converge on the point that critics are unfair on Israel for holding it to higher standards than less developed countries also comitting war crimes. Ie the quiet bigotry of low expectations on an international scale. I’ve never quite understood this argument, since countries that profess to abide by international law and then don’t will always draw more criticism than those that neither abide by it nor claim to. The anti-Iraq war protests against the UK were the biggest we’ve ever seen for this reason. And isn’t it more natural to direct energy at wrongdoing by countries which are nearer and over which we have more influence? Like, imagine if France was involved in an illegal war – people would go outside for that, to put it mildly. Whether lots of Israelis are Jewish or not doesn’t come into it (aren’t loads of them Palestinian anyway?). It’s all about the people at the top who both seem to profit from war and from us around them letting the debate collapse into a slinging match where you’re called an imperialist for supporting one side and racist for calling another when both sides are just concerned about the civilians. Tragic really.
The lack of condemnation of Egypt is an interesting point which I’ll admit I hadn’t considered (always happy to be proven wrong), although hard to convince them to take in refugees when the Israeli government has no interest? Though as you suggest it seems that trying to re-accomodate Gazan civilians in the face of a headstrong Israeli govt may be the only way of reducing the bloodshed..
Source1:https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2023/10/358170/israel-defense-minister-calls-palestinians-human-animals-amid-israeli-aggression
Source 2: https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/poll-shows-backing-for-netanyahu-imploding-gantz-taking-the-rudder/
Source 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JItciGFsSY
Source 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmzu6H6JINA
Source 5: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/foreign/israeli-fm-gaza-territory-shrink-after-war#:~:text=The%20Israeli%20foreign%20minister,reduce%20the%20size%20of%20Gaza.
Source 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7grSsuFSS0&t=1s

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Honestly we systematically flattened Germany for years intentionally and with great success killing and demoralizing their civilian population. For all our sanctimony we would do the same thing again if we actually felt physically threatened. Israel is at war – civilians in large numbers are going to die. There is nothing new about any of this.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Not sure civilian casualties are the necessity you think they are. The jury seems to be out on whether the allies’ intense bombing of civilian targets in WWII paid off, with one report claiming that beyond a certain level it was futile and a case of war crime (source 1), while others like Peter Hitchens (writing for Unherd, source 2) and the historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook (also writers for unherd, source 3) have also shown how the UK and the USA deserve less moral credit for WWII than we give them as we see in their antisemitic disinterest in bombing the railway lines to German concentration camps, despite knowing the location of some of them at least as early as 1944 (see also source 4). All this amounts to the possible irony that in debating me (considered on here some kind of anti-semite) you’ve (no doubt unwittingly) favourably deployed an example of a country whose military priorities revealed clear anti-semitism.
source 1: https://aoav.org.uk/2020/the-effects-of-strategic-bombing-in-wwii-on-german-morale/
source 2: https://unherd.com/2019/11/the-war-was-not-our-finest-hour/
source 3: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-man-who-escaped-auschwitz/id1537788786?i=1000591854991
source 4 Y. Bauer (1980), ‘Genocide: Was It the Nazis’ Original Plan?’ in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science pp. 35-45

G Stewatt
G Stewatt
8 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

The Allies actually undertook a detailed analysis of bombing the camps and concluded that the effort required would be better applied to the overall defeat of the Nazis. That would have a greater affect and result in the war ending sooner. The estimated GNP used to run the camp system was slightly under 5% As to the bombing of Germany the effects were multiple
· The effort required to defend Germany resulted in huge expenditure in manpower and materials. For example some two thirds of large caliber, high velocity were used for air defence and not destroying tanks and the defence required approximately 1.5 million men.
· Industry had to be dispersed resulting in inefficiencies.
· The Luftwaffe had to defend Germany and it was in the end effectively destroyed by the Allied air forces. This enabled the Allies and the Soviets to operate more freely than would have been otherwise.
Modern warfare, from the American Civil War onwards, is industrial. Can you produce more material then your enemy and have a continual process of developing new weapons? To defeat Germany their industrial base had to destroyed or at least severely damaged. With no precision guidance system it had to be area bombing with the resultant civilian casualties. The question then is do you not bomb to avoid casualties or bomb to defeat the enemy knowing what this entails for the civilians? WW2 was existential, it was us or them. In which case their civilians did not have a veto on getting bombed. The Nazis had to be defeated.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

I just responded to both comments in great detail but (as often happens with my longer responses that cite many links which i guess need to be checked?) the thing has been taken down. The comments will be put up tomorrow probably – unherd often like putting them under arrest for no good reason for 24 hours, a bit like the met with anti-monarchist demonstrators.

Last edited 9 months ago by Desmond Wolf
sergio bramasole
sergio bramasole
8 months ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

LOAC/IHL is quite clear on this matter. Dual-use objects used for military objectives have no immunity, albeit somewhat conditioned with a) proportionality and b) immediacy.
War is quote-unquote collective punishment for combatants and protected individuals alike. Not that I aim to sway your opinion. Too one-sided to begin with.
As for your KIA stats. 350 million Arabs outnumber 7 million Jews 50 to 1. Also, Pal something is a mental construct, a house of cards, a Potemkin village, take your pick. They have zero in common genetically or historically with Greek Philistines.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago

Why is it that Unherd has stuff other journalists haven’t even heard of or considered? Luttwak is a serious, totally legit observer and what he has to say — even if predictive, not necessarily what will happen — is directly relevant to the garbage that other “liberal artsy” commentators are spouting.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

I’m sorry but Luttwak is hardly Clausewitz!
The IDF is probably the best equipped fighting force on this earth! It is certainly the most heavily ‘subsidised’* If it cannot eliminate these Hamas cretins something is very seriously wrong.

As Tacitus put it some time ago:- “ make a desert and call it peace.”

(* By the US, who also supported the IRA, let us NOT forget!)

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago

Fighting in a city with collateral damage shields won’t be easy. The resolve will be tested on both sides.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

One problem is Hamas can mingle with the general population and do all sorts of harm.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
9 months ago

“Make a desert and call it peace”
I do not think that phrase means what you intend it to mean. Tacitus was putting words in the mouth of the Caledonian chieftain who was opposing the “robbers of the world”, as Tacitus says he called the Romans. It wasn’t an exhortation.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
9 months ago

Did I say Calgacus was making an exhortation?
I think NOT, just a statement of fact.

John Potts
John Potts
9 months ago

The IDF is probably the best equipped fighting force on this earth! It is certainly the most heavily ‘subsidised’* If it cannot eliminate these Hamas cretins something is very seriously wrong.

A very similar view was held by top American brass in Vietnam, and look how that played out. They believed their overwhelmingly superior fire power (land and air) would inevitably destroy the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and VC (Viet Cong). But the North generally avoided set-piece battles (and when they did engage in large and massed numbers it often ended in tears for them, as in the 1968 Tet offensive). More than 95% of their ground assaults on US and allied forces were made by small units. (Source: Thayer, War Without Fronts, Routledge 1985/2019)
Moreover, US forces had immense difficulty finding and destroying the NVA and VC tunnel network in South Vietnam and never managed to eliminate them all.

Last edited 9 months ago by John Potts
William Cameron
William Cameron
9 months ago

Tunnels dont work very well when full of gas or water

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago

Free sewer infrastructure.

Harry Phillips
Harry Phillips
9 months ago

Or petrol. Its hardly a new problem.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
9 months ago

Yes, ask the Germans who murdered thousands of Polish who were hiding in them WW2. My how we have evolved…

David Yetter
David Yetter
9 months ago

Or when a shockwave from a thermobaric weapon detonated anywhere in the tunnel travels along the length of it.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
9 months ago

I do not know how accurate Luttwak’s analysis is but if Israel does shift its objective to the more limited aim of destroying the tunnels and other military infrastructure from the far wider aim of entirely eliminating Hamas in one go then that augurs well. It would make a short containable war more likely – and a long brutal one, which spreads, radicalises Muslims across the region and triggers a far wider and terrifying war, less likely. One can understand why many Israelis want unlimited revenge but hope cooler heads prevail.

Matt M
Matt M
9 months ago

I would assume that once the tunnels are destroyed, so too is the ability of Hamas terrorists to hide themselves from more conventional attacks making future commando raids, targeted air strikes, assassinations etc much more effective.
It is my hope, after reading this article, that the “hot” war will be short and limited to the tunnel destruction/ hostage recovery. After which the “Kill everyone in Hamas” “cold” war operation will continue with the Gaza residents back home.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
9 months ago

It appears to me that Muslims across the region are already radical. Playing nicely hasn’t proved to be profitable with ideologues.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
9 months ago

After the last one, in 2006, he openly confessed that if he had known how much damage the Israeli air force could inflict, he would not have started the war.
The Wikipedia entry gives the direct quote:
In a TV interview aired on Lebanon’s New TV station on 27 August 2006, Nasrallah said that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers if he had known it would lead to such a war: “We do not think, even one percent, that the capture led to a war at this time and of this magnitude. I’m convinced and sure that this war was planned and that the capture of these hostages was just their excuse to start their pre-planned war, but if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not”.

Andrew S
Andrew S
9 months ago

I am sure Israel has plans for how to respond in many circumstances. I wish I had the same confidence in our own government and armed forces who seem to be caught off guard whatever happens.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

There is an article by Major General Charlie Herbert in the Daily Mail that is worth reading: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12635611/Why-Israel-unlikely-achieve-objectives-Gaza-ground-invasion-merely-continuing-cycle-violence-according-MAJOR-GENERAL-CHARLIE-HERBERT.html
He agrees that destroying the tunnel infrastructure, which is one of the five objectives he lays out for the ground assault, is possible given enough time but that it will only be temporary.
His overall conclusion is that war is not the solution to the problem, and going into Gaza will only perpetuate the cycle of violence.

jane baker
jane baker
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

But that’s actually the plan.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

That’s the trap that Hamas has laid. Does Israel have to take the bait?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

What in your view should Israel do?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I talked about this at length yesterday.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Yes, but here you are again so you’d better do a summary for those who can’t remember what you said yesterday, or those who never read it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

What else do you suggest?

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

They have to unflict punitive damage on hamas, or they will have no deterrent value in the future. Hamas has to know that for every death they inflict in Israel, it will be revisted on them x 100…..

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Charlie’s opinion of Israel’s objectives are obviously at odds with those in the article. I would tend to agree with Luttwak. And Israel itself will know the chances of success more than anyone.
BTW it’s a cop out to say you don’t want to explain what you think Israel should do. Do you expect people to comb back through various ME articles to see your view?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

Difficult though it is, a two-state or one-state solution. No other way to stop the cycle of violence. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the far-right in Israel would like to see the inhabitants of Gaza emptied into the Sinai Desert.
What do you think that Israel should do? Where do you think we will be in a year?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

The Gazans have repeatedly turned down any offers made for a two-state solution, These Arabs, who are not welcome in Egypt, Syria, or Jordan – their actual homeland – voted for the demonic Hamas, who torture and murder them when they disagree with the regime. The obvious response is to obliterate Gaza. Japan is today a prosperous ally of the United States and an excellent world citizen because Truman was serious. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war for the Japanese, too, who surrendered a week after Nagasaki, and began to rebuild immediately, with the help of the Americans.
Since Hamas (Iran) will allow no other considerations, it looks like the Arab people of Gaza, who have been swallowing anti-Israel propaganda and blood libels for decades, are to be sacrificed for the mullahs.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

Israel was empty?
“The obvious response is to obliterate Gaza.” Wow. Harsh.
Japan had two of its cities obliterated. If Gaza is wiped off the map, that will be all of it.
Are enough people not dead already?

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Just two cities obliterated? You are poorly informed. Between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about 100,000 people died, with a similar number injured. But the fire-bombing of Tokyo, about half a year before, killed a similar number, while leaving a million people homeless because 16 square miles of the fire-prone city had been destroyed. Besides Tokyo, another 60 Japanese cities were fire-bombed by American B-29s before the nuclear bombs made Japan throw in the towel.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

I’m simply using Allison’s example.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

The documentary “The Fog of War” – which is a long interview of Robert McNamara – is excellent. McNamara makes the point that the thing he feels most guilty during his career was. Not the Vietnam War but the Japanese fire bombings. He was part of the team that dreamt them up.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Obviously not for Iran, which needs as many dead as possible to prevent the burgeoning peace between the Saudis and the Israelis, with Lebanon and other Arab states increasingly willing to join. Peace cannot be made with the mullahs. Its been tried since 1979. They simply will not have it.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

It’s amazing how Sunnis are totally under the control of Shiites in this one place, don’t you think? Maybe there’s hope of reconciliation after all.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Fat chance.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Apparently not.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
9 months ago

Why do you class Egypt or Jordan as the Palestinians homeland, rather than what was known as British Mandate Palestine less than a century ago?

David Yetter
David Yetter
9 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Probably because the West Bank was annexed by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt when the British Mandate collapsed in the Israeli War of Independence. Until the victorious Allies carved up the Ottoman Empire, there weren’t “Palestinian Arabs” as distinct from Arab subjects of the Ottoman Sultan living in other provinces.

Anthony Rice
Anthony Rice
9 months ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I think what you say David is very interesting. Was not a lot of land Israel is accused of occupying not awarded to them initially but invaded and taken by Jordan and Egypt. So in reality, srael is taking back what should have been theirs, certainly that applies to the West Bank ?

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

I don’t understand Nik. Hamas stated aim is to destroy Israel and they’ll keep attempting that as long as they exist. Why do you think that ideology would cease to exist if the Palestinians had a state? Whenever Israel has given up land as part of a pathway to a peace deal or long term solution said land has just been used as a base to attack them from. They won a lot of the so-called ‘occupied’ territories in wars all started by the surrounding states and have no reason to trust that they would not be reused to attack Israel if they give them up again. The fundamental problem is a clash of ideologies and long held religious and cultural beliefs and land or material wealth will not change these beliefs.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Dyke

If they cannot be successfully eliminated, as the Major General argues, how are we any further on at the end of this?
There are differing accounts of what happened in 1967. Ilan Pappe’s ‘The Biggest Prison on Earth’ argues (from evidence) that Israel had been planning to grab the Gaza Strip and the Occupied West Bank for years. The war gave them the excuse to do so.
I think Palestinians would say that it is their land that has been taken from them, not ceded by Israel, and there lies the problem. I don’t think this can be reduced to Jews vs Muslims. Before the Zionist project, Jews, Muslims and Christians coexisted without the level of friction that ensued when it became about land.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Before the Zionist project Palestine was a province in the Osmannic empire. When neither group has the power and all are subjects it is a lot easier to get along – especially if there is a tyrant to keep order. There is any number of examples where the move to a democratic nation state triggers separatism or civil war: Yougoslavia, the break-up of the Soviet Union, Austria-Hungry or the Osmannic empire, Iraq post-Saddam. Maybe the best examples are
1) 1848 Denmark. The change from absolute monarchy to a democratic state led to an immediate rebellion in the German-speaking provinces, who could not accept being a minority in a Danish nation-state.
2) Syria. Notice how all the minorities sided with Assad, because they would much rather obey a blood-stained dictator than risk being a minority group in a Sunni nation-state.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That is a fair point, though it doesn’t decide the issue of whether land or religion is the main driver. I have heard it swings towards land on the Occupied West Bank and religion in Gaza, but I really don’t know.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

OSMANNIC?
Is that what we used to call the OTTOMAN Empire?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

Guilty as charged. My apologies

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Provided Christians and Jews accepted Dhimmi status which includes paying tax and not possessing arms.From 900 to 1000AD Dhimmis status became onerous and many Jews and Christian convrted to Islam. The arrival of the Seljuk Turks who hin dered Christin pilgramage to the Holy Lands led to the First Crusade. Persecution of Jews and Christian tended to vary and depended who was in power.
At the end of the 19th century many Jews bougth land at up to10x it’s worth. The land was largely malarial swamp an desert. The landowners were in Damascus, Cairo, Alexandria and Beirut. The Jewish farms, largely citrus, were so successful that up to 250,000 arabs migrated to work on them. If the landowners had done what the Jewish settlers did, which was create very profitable citrus farms and not sold the land them the land, there would be no Israel. The story of Esau comes to mind.
If the Palestinians had risen up in 1916 and fought with Allenby against the Turks, as did the Hashemites, they would control present day Israel. The King of Jordan is a Hashemite.
In 1948 the arab nations promised to wipe out Israel and told the Arabs to flee, the idea being it would easier to kill the Jews. The Grand Mufti’s support for Himmler and the SS was probaly why Stalin allowed Czechoslovakia to arm Israel in the 1940s.
The tragedy of the Palestinians are the lost opportunities. if the Palestinians had had a diplomat of the calibre of Abba Eban they would be in a much better position. A King Abdullah I on the throne of Jordan, Sadat as President of Egypt and a Palestinian Abba Eban would have probaly produced a Palestinian state. The hatreds of the arab countries for Abdullah I was such that they would rather have the Palestinian people suffer than for him to create a successful Palestinian State in peaceful coexistance with Israel.
Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Abba Eban

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Dyke

I always say that religion is the root of all “evil”.

Robert Mclean
Robert Mclean
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

I seen on the tv just recently, General Haig of the First World War fame, giving the PM of that time, the facts of life when it came to compulsory conscription. In a numerical ‘way’, (troops getting killed that is) Britain would WIN, as they had MORE troops with American and, other Allies of course. A horror look from the PM and, he got WHAT he wanted. Now, just WHO has the ‘numerical numbers’ in the Middle East then?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Robert Mclean

Sorry if I’m being thick. What conclusion am I supposed to draw?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

You’re not being thick, Robert’s comment is very confusing.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Two problems: 1. You need three states: the idea of Gaza and West Bank being linked states with a corridor through Israel is drunks-in-a-bar thinking 2. States would have to be disarmed, and when they are states the detours they’ll take to be armed will be much harder to attack. Attacking a state is politically and legally different than attacking a territory.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

Nobody is going to want to allow the Palestinian state(s) to be armed or the Israeli state to be disarmed. If there were a solution, I think one secular state may be the only realistic option on the table, but Rasmus puts the difficulties well in his reply below.

David Yetter
David Yetter
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

How about a secular federation of small states with varying religious characters? Of course, that is a non-starter unless Hamas is actually destroyed: one cannot have a federation in which one part is governed by people sworn to wipe out another part. (Heck, secular Israelis would probably be happy to have the Haredim live in a different state.)

Last edited 9 months ago by David Yetter
Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

At this point, you do begin to wonder if the West Bank would actually want Gaza.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

One state cannot be offered because it will signal the end of Israel and two state has been offered. It is moot anyway because Hamas does not and will not acknowledge the existence of Israel. Eliminating the tunnels seems to be the best short term solution, but I don’t know just how difficult this will be. Medium and long term, I think the Arab states should offer a home to people who want to leave and there should be international pressure and diplomacy brought to bear to bring this about. Not that Joe will want to stop manufacturing arms.

Last edited 9 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago

Why should other states be pressured? What is the moral case?

William Cameron
William Cameron
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Hamas and Hezbollah dont want a solution. They thrive without a solution.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Exactly. Violence is a way of life for them because they know nothing else except Islamic ideology. They’re raised as fanatics.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Your underlying premise is that, with the correct diplomacy, peace is possible. I think then you must show how Hamas is distinguishable from Nazi leadership. They share the same goal of murdering all Jews, and sent their own einsatzgruppen into Israel on 10/7. How can such an entity live within a single state or adjacent in a two state arrangement?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Who knows!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Exactly!!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Presumably the solution you wrote about yesterday is “Pursue a two-state of single-state solution“. That may be the only way of making a permanent solution to the problem – but maybe there is no solution to this problem. We have two incompatible groups that both want full control of the same territory and we only need to look to Nagorno-Karabakh, ex-Yougoslavia, Greece and Turkey, … to see how that pans out.

The problem with any solution that gives Palestinians either full voting rights in Israel or a genuinely free independent state is that it would put them in a position where they could prepare the ground, start a new war, call in Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and have a good chance of winning. Basically we would be putting the clock back to 1947 – and we all know what happened in 1948. Only this time the Muslim side would be better prepared. If I was an Israeli I would not vote for a solution where the life of myself and my children depended on the good will and self-restraint of a group of people who believed I had no right to live there and who had good reason to hate me.

So if there ever is a peaceful solution to this problem it will take decades of brilliant and enlightened work from both sides. Admittedly Israel has not tried to make it happen so far (any more than Hamas has). But until that day is in sight a series of temporary (and violent) solutions may be the best Israel can hope for. Only when Hamas can make an offer that would give credible long-term security for Israel and its citizens (or when Hamas stops ‘perpetuating the cycle of violence’) can you reasonably expect that Israel should stop fighting back.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

After this war Hamas will not be a viable interlocutor for anyone. Dennis Ross — who knows more about this than any of us — thought a UN administered zone with a stabilization program followed by elections might be viable.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

Does any serious person believe that a Palestinian state will miraculously evaporate the utter hatred and bloodlust towards Jews, harbored by these rabid savages?

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

Last time they tried that, the Gazans elected Hamas …

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I think Israel has showed a lot of restraint over many years iro violence.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago

Maybe. But the Netanyahu government has openly pursued a policy of strengthening Hamas and weakening the PLO, exactly because this left no viable interlocutor on the Palestinian side, and so protected Israel from demands for giving up control of territory. Israel is certainly a lot more restrained than Hamas – which is one reason I would prefer Israel to win if there can be no stable peace – but you can hardly claim that Israel has tried to achieve a peace deal any time lately.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
9 months ago

Far too much, and dating back to 1967 when they achieved a clear cut victory, but were too feeble to exploit to the full.

A mistake incidentally that the Ancient Romans would NEVER have made.

Last edited 9 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Good reply.
It is indeed a thorny problem and may be insoluble. What I would say is missing, though, is the reason why Palestinians should stop fighting back. They were dispossessed of their land in 1948 and have lost further land ever since. They are killed with impunity by settlers in the Occupied West Bank as more and more land is taken from them.
They alone pay the price for two millennia of anti-Semitism and pogroms all over the world. We are the misbehaving royal child, but they are the proxy who takes the beating for us.
We turn a blind eye to it all, or worse, it suits our geopolitical strategies. Biden has said repeatedly (90s, 2015, 2022): “if there were not an Israel, we’d have to invent one”.
What equitable solution can there be when it’s not a fair fight?
They are deprived of the ability to organise themselves and fight back in a conventional way. They end up indiscriminately firing their little rockets, 90% of which are taken out in the air, against their dispossessors, who possess the most sophisticated weaponry on the planet. It’s like 19th-century spears against British cannon.
Now, some of them have erupted in sadistic, unforgivable, unbearable savagery, losing much of any remaining sympathy. Israel has now seemingly been given carte blanche to do what it wants in response.
What I am seeing this week, with forced resettlement and the empty admonitions of our leaders that Israel must obey the laws of war whilst permitting them to break them, makes me feel that we are moving a step further down the road to their expulsion entirely from Israel. That’s certainly what they fear.
If we survive the fallout, and there will be consequences, the world will respond with some platitudes and empty gestures and then will move on.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

As it happens I do not disagree with anything you say in this post. You are quite right.

Trouble is, an end to the fighting would require that both sides accept that whatever they have is the best they are going to get. Maybe in this kind of conflict that can only be achieved by ethnic cleansing of some kind. In Europe after WW2 the displaced Germans accepted that they had lost, and were not getting back into East Prussia or the Sudetenland. So that conflict is closed down (though, to be sure, it helped that the Germans could have a fine future as parts of Germany; the Palestinians have no such offer).

It would seem not only just but wise for Israel to offer the Palestinians at least a liveable future – in the hope that eventually there might be some kind of peace. The current policies have pretty clearly failed. But the Palestinians have shown no sign of being willing to accept anything less than getting back all they lost. One would fear that ultimately only a complete win for one side could put an end to the fighting. And in that case I would rather see an Israeli win than a Palestinian win. The expulsion of millions of Palestinians would be a tragedy (and indeed a crime), but I still think it would be better than what we could expect if Hamas took power over Israel and continued the work they have just started. I hope that someone will be wise and strong enough to ultimately find a better solution than that – as clearly do you. But I am not optimistic.

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I don’t know how to reply to this with anything other than despair. We both hope for the best and fear for the worst.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
9 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I just spent half an hour writing a reply to your post, which is very good, but it has instantly disappeared. Maybe it will reappear later.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

The same happened to my post, first. Way it goes. I look forward to seeing your answer.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

A long post of Nik Jewell’s just disappeared. As usual it was polite, reasonable and on topic. Can we have it back, please?
ADDED. OK, it is back

Last edited 9 months ago by Rasmus Fogh
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Indeed, but what else can be done? There’s always been a cycle of violence.

David Whitaker
David Whitaker
9 months ago

I imagine that the Israelis will have been able to detect the spoil disposal operations associated with tunnel sites. For every cubic metre of concrete going into lining a tunnel I would guess that at least five cubic metres of spoil would have to be removed and placed somewhere.

Leonel SIlva Rocha
Leonel SIlva Rocha
9 months ago
Reply to  David Whitaker

You mean the Soil disposal, right?

Kevin Godwin
Kevin Godwin
9 months ago

He is correct in this instance by using the term ‘spoil’.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  David Whitaker

Interesting thought.

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
9 months ago

This is the second article where Luttwak has praised the Namer. I am starting to think he has stock in the company that makes it.

A D Kent
A D Kent
9 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

He doesn’t have to have stock, but he probably knows what side his bread is buttered on. He’ll knows that an honest appraisal might lead to rather fewer invites to the various well-sponsored symposiums & conferences that such analysts frequent these days. Helsinki is rather lovely this time of year.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

And then again, maybe that’s what he honestly thinks? I agree on the silly conferences, and do not respect liberal artsy “thinkers,” but Luttwak is above that.

Phil Gough
Phil Gough
9 months ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Highly technical weaponry won’t end Israel’s 100 years war, getting rid of the religious idiots on both sides and letting the Palestinians govern themselves will.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Phil Gough

It’s impossible to get rid of “religious idiots”.

David Yetter
David Yetter
9 months ago
Reply to  Phil Gough

“…letting the Palestinians govern themselves will.” Given that the one election held in Gaza selected Hamas to run the place, on what basis do you assert that?
Maybe letting a carefully selected secularist Palestinian dictator govern the Palestinians…

Peter Lucey
Peter Lucey
9 months ago

“intense Sunni Islamist ideology classifies Hezbollah’s Shi’a followers as heretics deserving of punishment and exclusion until they repent.”
Not quite. I think it’s the death penalty for apostates and heretics. Note that Shia Iran has the same view of Sunnis. Which is what the war in Yemen is all about.

And both Shia and Sunni despise Ahmadi muslims, which is why they are second class people in Pakistan and Iran, and why Asad Shah was murdered in Glasgow in 2016.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter Lucey

The world might be more peaceful without religion.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago

Like the old starship trooper game(1976). A good strategy game but they will need psychics to find the brain.

Last edited 9 months ago by Bret Larson
R Wright
R Wright
9 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

“Would you like to know more?”

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
9 months ago

There is one big problem Luttwak fails to mention: the Israeli hostages are very likely to be hidden in the same labyrinthine system of tunnels that IDF must destroy.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Agree. And Israelis know that and the hostages cannot possibly be a reason to hold off because otherwise all ?Israelis are doomed.
Has anyone else noticed that the UN indignation hasn’t emanded release of hostages?

Arthur G
Arthur G
9 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

I think almost everyone knows they’re not going to survive.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
9 months ago

Would it not make more sense for Israel to hunt down Hamas leadership wherever they are?

jane baker
jane baker
9 months ago

There is no “leader”. There is no big guy in a helicopter with Ray-Bans. If I was the Israeli counter insurgency ones I would be going after Palestinian wombs and it’s my idea that is just what they are doing. Horrible isn’t it.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

What?!

A D Kent
A D Kent
9 months ago

Do you mean Qatar?

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
9 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Oh yeah that beacon of light in the middle east that homes terrorist leaders, doesn’t value migrant workers and hosts football tournaments

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
9 months ago

It would make more sense for the Israelis to bide their time, identify the perpetrators, and pick them off, one by one, at their leisure, just like they did with Nazi war criminals and the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics attack.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Isn’t that what they’re doing?

Jim McDonnell
Jim McDonnell
9 months ago

The Mediterranean Sea is very close by. Why not flood the tunnel network?

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
9 months ago

There are “deep tunnels — too deep for aerial bombing — that Hamas has been excavating and lining in concrete for more than 10 years.” Yes, but on the other hand, if they can plug up as many entrances as possible and then take the fighting underground where Hamas is at least partially trapped, it would concentrate the enemy AND insulate to some degree the civilians on the surface. Far from ideal, but better than shooting anything that moves above ground.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

Was wondering, can’;t they just drop in high explosive grenades that block the terrorists inside and where they will suffocate? Of course they willl flee to alternative exists, and presumably one has to think that through as part of the approach. Also, tear gas or other gas must be fun if you’re stuck in a tunnel. Why take the risk of entering?

Arthur G
Arthur G
9 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

The Israelis have no intention of taking the fighting underground. They’re going to seal all the exits and then use high explosives, flame throwers, smoke, water, gasoline, whatever to trap and kill the terrorist in place. Read up on how the US dealt with the Japanese tunnel systems in the last years of WW2. You don’t go in; you make sure no one can come out.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
9 months ago

I would have thought that a major factor overlooked by the author here is the likelihood of Israeli and other western hostages in the tunnels. You can’t clear the way with bullets, explosives, gas, or chemical agents if there is the possibility of children in the next room.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Correct. They know this, Luttwak knows this. I suspect they expect to lose hostages, they know it, and they know there is no choice.

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
9 months ago

Good insights.

Mark Turner
Mark Turner
9 months ago

Surely it would not be to difficult to find a tunnel entrance and start pumping in water from the sea?

J. Hale
J. Hale
9 months ago

Can’t Israel just block the tunnels, find a way to cut off the air, just let the inhabitants die with a miniumun of Israeli casualties?

David Yetter
David Yetter
9 months ago
Reply to  J. Hale

Too many entrances in areas controlled by Hamas. I’m afraid thermobaric weapons are the only really sensible choice here.

A D Kent
A D Kent
9 months ago

We’ll see about how effective the Namers perform in what the Israelis have turned into a shambles of ruins and rubble, but we already have evidence of the ineffectiveness of their vaunted Trophy armour from just last week. In Ukraine we’ve seen plenty of evidence of the ability of modern handheld munitions to destroy tanks on both sides – even the Leopard IIs and Challengers have fallen prey to them in Syria & Iraq. 

The Israeli’s ‘street-fighting’ training may not help them much in areas where streets no longer exist. It’s likely they’ll learn the same lessons as the Nazis did in Stalingrad, the Western Allies did at Monte Casino, Caen & in the final days of the Second World War. Their losses will be huge and their armour could be a hinderance where potential firing ranges are so short.

And on another matter – let’s ignore the legality of the targeting of Syrian airports Professor – or that the Israel attacks continue there work as al-Nuzra’s airforce – but who says the targets in Syria were Iranian rocket depots?   What evidence do you have aside from the assertions of the Israelis? 

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Sorry but sometimes you. don’t get to peek at a military’s intelligence. Are you suggesting they bombed the teddy bear supply for Syrian refugees?
As for the history of street fighting, you correctly identify historical sources of the risk. But the IDF knows that, and has maps of streets that remain streets. You skepticism aside, the IDF ain’t dumb. They may have missed the tragic raids, and they will surely lose soldiers, but no surprises are left.

A D Kent
A D Kent
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

We’ll see whenever the Israelis get around to trying to invade. It could bee they’re getting rather cold feet about it now, but we’ll see. The IDF aren’t dumb, but they’re as prone as any military to suffer from group-think and ‘fighting the last war’ – although for them that would have been the disaster of Lebanon 2014.

FWIW with squadrons of US & UK land-base aircraft moving to Jordon & Cyprus & 2 US carrier groups & amphibious landing ships moving into the Easter Med I think there could well be more in play than just Gaza right now. If I were in Lebanon or Syria I’d be more than usually worried. Syria in particular would be a very good place for the neocons to ‘punish them & Russia’ for not crumbling from the dirty war. Handy bit of punishment for Russia too for having the temerity of not being beaten in Ukraine despite NATO emptying their stockpiles into the place. Nice diversion from the RF’s advances there too.

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
9 months ago

The facetiousness of this article is bizarre.

‘Fashionable black outfits’

Does this author think war is a game?
Let’s see how long his utmost confidence in his beloved new toy, The Namer!, lasts.

Last edited 9 months ago by Alex Colchester
Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago

You’re angry, it seems. Sorry if Luttwak offended you. He’s a pretty smart guy, facts be known.

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Kaufman

You’re angry

Am I?

he’s a pretty smart guy

Is he?
Let’s revisit this in a few weeks and see how well his article has aged.

Last edited 9 months ago by Alex Colchester
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

The “Fashionable black outfits” was sarcasm.

Alex Colchester
Alex Colchester
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Facetiousness means – inappropriate humour. Clearly I understand it was sarcasm. I just don’t think it is appropriate to use sarcasm when (attempting) to write a serious article about war.
All this article is lacking is a few hastily drawn schematics- ‘this is how deep our unstoppable precision bombs will penetrate’, a la Sunday Times, to satisfy the rubbernecking of the armchair generals of the west as they eat their egg and soldiers. Such fun!

Last edited 9 months ago by Alex Colchester
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
9 months ago

While you may be tempted to write in anger, you are more likely to achieve your goals by writing in a friendly manner. Consciously thinking about a friendly response will increase your chances of getting a friendly – or neutral – response in return. If your goal is to end the conflict, then being friendly has the greatest likelihood of success. Don’t give the other person a reason to get defensive and keep responding. 

Peter O
Peter O
9 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

And you know this because it worked for you after someone slaughtered your nearest and dearest?

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
9 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Are you applying this to the debate on Unherd or the Arab-Israeli conflict? If it’s the latter I’ll think you’ll find that murderous ideologies founded on religious revelation are a bit harder to budge.

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Hey, I never thought of that! Israel has to be nicer!

jane baker
jane baker
9 months ago

If the stupid bastards had put half the energy and ingenuity into making Gaza the territory they were gifted into a tourist destination,a place of if not industry at least employability,that area had a lot of advantages. It even had good infrastructure and the first thing the stupid forkers did was to blow up all the infrastructure. It was on the BBC,the cretins were rejoicing and partying about it. They spent at least two decades like something out of a Will Hay film digging useless tunnels under the sand,a lot of which collapsed and killed them. And look,I’m one of they unlucky buggers who gets it in the neck always because I’m totally sure this “attack” was planned,organized,paid for and instigated by the CIA for USA jewry so now in a bloody Nazi loving right wing bigot too. The Palestinians who OWNED land ,they had legal deeds,papers, actual legal documents,not vague words in some Bronze Age holy book.,but they are too stupid and disorganized to ever have carried out such an EFFICIENT attack as that. No way was it them. Or it was but the more stupid ones,the ones who took the money. Playing into their enemies hands. I’m appalled at how this is now providing an excuse and a cover for actual genocide,which we are all being kept well informed about so we can all be guiltily complicit. You say a word in support of people who have had their land bought, finagled and outright stolen off them you’re a fascist Nazi. Anyway I saw the YouTube of all those Jews protesting in central London and a right aggressive nasty crew they came across as. They’re coming for your house. God says they own it in the Bible. Drop the victim schtick why don’t you. In fact the whole crew of you middle east bastards just f**k off to oblivion. At least Persians are cultured and civilized

Last edited 9 months ago by jane baker
Walter Schwager
Walter Schwager
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Start taking your meds again!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Exactly!

Alan Kaufman
Alan Kaufman
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

Who can argue about how civilized the “Persians” are? Khomeini and his pals are our kind of folks.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

I agree. Looks like an inside job. I think they will need to follow the benefits. For instance Netanyahu isn’t losing his job now. What a gift.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

But he will.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Its a very convenient war to salvage his career.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

What is this “god” that writes books? So silly.