IDF quietly carves out 1-3km security strip while pulling troops out of Gaza. A humanitarian truce declared

DEBKA

August 4, 2014, 7:10 AM (IDT)

After withdrawing the bulk of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip in a “new phase” of its counter-terror operation, Israel declared a unilateral humanitarian ceasefire for seven hours starting 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4 to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid and for displaced Palestinians to return to their homes. Eastern Rafah was not included. The IDF would respond to any attacks during that time.

But on the quiet, the IDF was on the process of conducting a major strategic operation, carving out a buffer strip or cordon sanitaire just inside the Gaza border, designed to be controlled from outside by special forces and armored units on round-the-clock alert, to bar hostile infiltrations. They are equipped with a battery of firing posts, sensors and drones.

This sterile strip runs 65km from Beit Hanoun in the north to Khan Younis in the south, roughly following one of Gaza’s only motorways, Highway 6 (see map).
All the territory east of this line up to the Israeli border has been cleared of buildings and vegetation to a depth of 1 km in the north and center of Gaza and 2-3 km deep in such areas as Khan Younis.

These dimensions were calculated to reduce Palestinian rocket fire against Israel’s southern communities, and deter Hamas from planning new tunnels.

The Israel troops pulled out of Gaza are redeploying in a new formation as a “breakthrough force” – able to cross back into Gaza for rapid response operations if necessary. It is made up of large armored units, special operations contingents and air force, and is highly mechanized rather than fielding soldiers on foot. This force is capable of raids that penetrate deeper into the territory than ventured by the IDF in the first 27 days of Operation Defensive Edge.

For the new phase of its operation, the Netanyahu government has determined to have no truck with the Hamas terrorists and, irrespective of its demands and terms for a ceasefire, to act on its own initiative in accordance with Israel’s own security needs. This policy has impacted on the Gaza truce negotiations which go into their second day in Cairo Monday. Their participants cannot avoid appreciating that Israel has followed its own operationall plans for redeployment outside the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, military experts warn that the new military formation opens up the prospect of a prolonged war of attrition. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are keeping up their rocket and mortar fire on Israel – up to 140 Sunday alone. After a quiet night, the first rockets were intercepted by Iron Dome over Ashdod and Ashkelon at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

The threat of “synchronized” terror attacks through still undiscovered tunnels has been sharply reduced by the massive IDF effort to disable the network – but there is no guarantee that all of the tunnels have been discovered, or that new ones are not being burrowed under the border.

Saturday night, three dusty motorcycles were pulled out of the 3-km long Rafah tunnel through which suicide bombers surprised and killed three Givati officers Thursday 90 minutes into an international ceasefire. They were intended for use by six terrorists for a raid or raids far from the immediate environs of the Gaza border.
So Hamas still holds the advantage of nasty surprise.

August 4, 2014 | 13 Comments »

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13 Comments / 13 Comments

  1. One of the problems is that Israel only has an official overt military force which can only act under rules of war. Israel should setup, as many intelligence agencies do, an arm’s length force which conducts continuous terror attacks on the enemy population. The efficacy of this approach is that those under attack are usually tied up with their own defense with little energy or resource left for attack. right now Israel is the one always under terror threat and attack. It needs to reverse this paradigm and find a way, legal or illegal, to put the enemy populations under continuous terror attacks. It can devise a structure of plausible deniability, saying it has no control over “rogue” terror groups. Of course, Israel can continue to choose to be the target of terror or the perpetrator of terror. I would choose to be the perpetrator because my children are important to me and the enemy children are not.

  2. @ Bear Klein:

    Livni has proposed walling off Gaza under ground as well on the surface. Give the threat of subterranean warfare, I think it should be looked at. As far as physical separation Of Jews from the the Arabs is concerned, its high time that COGAT be dissolved and all Israeli aid to Gaza should be terminated. If Israel is not going to occupy it, it makes no sense whatsoever for Israel to supply Hamas with food, humanitarian goods, fuel and electricity. If it wants those things, let them get them from Egypt. The Jewish State was not created to be a baby-sitting service for Jew-hating Arabs.

  3. @ NormanF: The zone is barren as I understand. Not like in Lebanon where their where civilians and IDF where present. This becomes a challenge of whose standoff fire power is greater. Other plans for stopping tunnels being built into Israel are being implemented. Some short term (physical) and some long term (est. 1 year or less) based on new technology.

  4. @ BethesdaDog:

    Israel carved out a security zone in Lebanon from the border to the Litani River – hence the name – to thwart the PLO from 1978-1982 and Hezbollah from 1985-2000. The main problem with it was it was static defense and did not provide a solution to on-going guerilla warfare directed against Israel. Israel was able in 1982 to eliminate the PLO but it has not found a solution to the threat posed by Hezbollah. Many of the same problems face Israel with its new security zone in Gaza.

  5. BethesdaDog Said:

    yamit82 Said:

    UN Blasts Israel for Not Sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
    UN’s human rights official condemns Israel for “war crimes”, cites its failure to share Iron Dome with the “governing authority” of Gaza.

    This is one of the dopiest comments yet, from one of the worst dopes among the international bureaucratic hacks and busybodies that inhabit the UN and other such organizations. Who gave these people so much authority and a platform? Why should anybody care what this woman says? Yet she is quoted as though she is the last word on humane conduct. I despise these people, Pillay, that ungly chinless woman from England, that Robinson woman from Ireland. Who invited these people? Like Kerry. Caroline Glick said a couple of weeks ago, after his phone conversation was recorded by mistake, “who invited” Kerry? He just decides he’s going to leave for the Middle East and butts in. All he did was get three soldiers murdered with his phony ceasefire. Yet, when he was in the military, he turned it into a photo op or documentary about how he was hunting Viet Cong from his gunship. Was he ever in combat in Viet Nam?

    Please note that when I said “dopey comment” I was referring to what Pillay said, not your “comment.” Just to clarify.

  6. NormanF Said:

    The problem with the Litani model is that Hamas will conduct a long term guerilla war on the model of Hezbollah – designed to sap Israeli morale and unity to undermine Israel’s presence in its new security zone. It hands Hamas the strategic initiative and forces Israel to rely on static defense against an unpredictable and dangerous foe. Without taking the war to Hamas, the IDF can expect continued surprise attacks and casualties in the future.

    I don’t know what you mean by the “Litani Model,” unless that was what was you used while the IDF was in Lebanon, but it does remind me a bit of the Bar Lev Line, which didn’t use so much hardware and technology, but seemed to use a small number of soldiers in a line of isolted outposts, with reserves ready to the rear. 1973 shows that it could easily be ovecome. Maybe this will reduce the likelihood of the very thin frontline of a small number of humans being overrun and killed, but I still wonder how effective it will be. After all, sensors can probably be overcome, drones might not see everything, I think they might be fooled, Hamas will just start building tunnels from farther back or they’l somehow find gaps in the entire system. I don’t know if it is that hard to do. Actually, they are more capable then we would have thought (and from what I’ve read, Hezbollah might be even more capable). The Iranians are no slouch when it comes to technology. Somehow, at some point, I think there’s going to be a weakness in this system that can be exploited. I would never underestimate the enemy. I don’t even think the IDF found all the tunnels, but how would I know?

    Of course, I don’t know what the alternative is. I don’t know that there’s a will to take over Gaza, or to destroy Hamas. They must have thousands of rockets left, and they can just move back a few kilometers and keep firing (which they’re apparently doing).

  7. yamit82 Said:

    Hamas Demands UN ‘Apologize’ for Demanding Soldier’s Release
    The UN ‘owes an apology to Palestinians’ for demanding the return of presumed-kidnapped IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, Hamas claims.

    They’ll probably get it.

  8. yamit82 Said:

    UN Blasts Israel for Not Sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
    UN’s human rights official condemns Israel for “war crimes”, cites its failure to share Iron Dome with the “governing authority” of Gaza.

    This is one of the dopiest comments yet, from one of the worst dopes among the international bureaucratic hacks and busybodies that inhabit the UN and other such organizations. Who gave these people so much authority and a platform? Why should anybody care what this woman says? Yet she is quoted as though she is the last word on humane conduct. I despise these people, Pillay, that ungly chinless woman from England, that Robinson woman from Ireland. Who invited these people? Like Kerry. Caroline Glick said a couple of weeks ago, after his phone conversation was recorded by mistake, “who invited” Kerry? He just decides he’s going to leave for the Middle East and butts in. All he did was get three soldiers murdered with his phony ceasefire. Yet, when he was in the military, he turned it into a photo op or documentary about how he was hunting Viet Cong from his gunship. Was he ever in combat in Viet Nam?

  9. Is Israel Going to Let Hamas Win?

    Hamas is winning because as of now there are dozens of kibbutzim and Israeli villages along the frontier with Gaza which are empty. Many Jews abandoned the region because of Hamas’ tunnels.

    The life of a single Israeli soldier is worth more than the lives of 100 terrorists.
    Hamas is winning the war over public opinion: Israel is vilified as child killers, while Muslim terrorists are justified as “resistants”.

    Hamas is winning because it was able to shut down Tel Aviv international airport.

    Hamas is winning when it builds dozens of tunnels that reach inside Israeli territory. Will Israel one day wake up to discover that they have built a tunnel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem?

    Hamas is winning when its heads are safe under a Gaza hospital or a Doha hotel.

    Hamas is winning when Israeli commentators and politicians believe that it cannot win the war, but just manage it.

    Don’t let the political and military echelon write another chapter in Israel’s story of defeatism.

  10. The problem with the Litani model is that Hamas will conduct a long term guerilla war on the model of Hezbollah – designed to sap Israeli morale and unity to undermine Israel’s presence in its new security zone. It hands Hamas the strategic initiative and forces Israel to rely on static defense against an unpredictable and dangerous foe. Without taking the war to Hamas, the IDF can expect continued surprise attacks and casualties in the future.