Israel: The “Chipping” Solution for Gaza



  by Tom Holsinger

November 4, 2023: Israel’s war with Hamas has become more complicated with Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, becoming more involved. Hezbollah has ten times more rockets and guided missiles within range of Israel than Hamas did, and Hezbollah’s are much closer to Israel’s major cities. Worse, Israel’s supplies of the Tamir missiles used by its Iron Dome ABM system have been significantly depleted against attacks by Hamas.

Israel’s strategic issues with Hamas alone are horrible, chiefly concerning what to do with the population of Gaza which survives Israel’s conquest. Israel has always had the power to conquer Gaza and now has the political will – the Israeli public insists on the eradication of Hamas and ALL Israeli factions do too including their elites and national defense planners. Only Israeli ground conquest and occupation of Gaza can eliminate Hamas there.

The ground conquest will be ghastly no matter what else happens. The United States v. Japan 1945 Battle of Manila is directly analogous. Manila’s population was about a million, the Japanese defenders numbered about 17,000 and the US attackers comprised a corps of two infantry and one airborne division. Gaza has about 2.3 million people, Hamas about 15,000 “fighters” and probably an equal number of willing “militia”, while Israel has 19 infantry and airborne brigades (six division equivalents) suitable for urban combat.

The battle of Manila lasted a month. At least 100,000 Filipino civilians were killed of whom 60,000 were massacred by the Japanese, and 40,000 during the fighting, mostly by American artillery. American casualties were 1000 dead/missing and 5600 wounded. Another 250,000 civilians were wounded.

Comparable casualties for an Israeli ground conquest of Gaza would be two months duration, 276,000 civilians dead (mostly massacred by Hamas), and 2300 Israeli dead/missing and 12,900 wounded, which would be similar to those of the Yom Kippur War.

But the two sieges are only superficially comparable, in both directions. Both Hamas and Israel are far better prepared than the Japanese and Americans were for the battle of Manila. The Gaza civilians are more vulnerable than Manila’s Filipinos because the opposing forces will use much more firepower, and have more problems with water supplies. People can live without water for only five days.

Worse, Hamas is a true death cult, and they already consider Gaza’s civilians to be prospective useful martyrs whom they can kill themselves to blame it on the Israelis. And they already have, with car bombs against Gaza civilians fleeing from the northern to the southern half of Gaza to get away from the fighting. There are videos of this.

Most civilians will take cover in tunnels to escape surface fighting and Israeli bombardment. Even if Hamas does not use them as human shields against Israeli attack, it will be very difficult for Israeli soldiers to distinguish tunnels containing only civilians from those containing Hamas fighters too. The first Israeli solution to this was to order civilians in the northern half of Gaza to move to the southern half. Hamas tried to stop this with car bombs but failed.

Urban fighting is bad enough, especially in Gaza with scores of thousands of booby traps in buildings and tunnels, but the tunnels particularly will make it far worse than any urban combat in history. Israel casualties could easily exceed the 11,000 of the Yom Kippur War but for one particular innovation – the “sponge bomb”, a variety of rapidly expanding foam plastic that hardens to concrete consistency, and is delivered by anything from a man-portable grenade or an engineering-type large foam sprayer. The grenade-type device would create a temporary tunnel barrier a meter thick while the engineering devices could form 5-10 meters thick semi-permanent barriers.

Such almost instantly effective sprayable tunnel barriers, if they work, will be crucial because they allow the Israelis to use standard urban combat tactics of slow, methodical advances to isolate small chunks of areas, clear those, and do this repeatedly. Gaza’s network of tunnels (people can probably move underground from any 3+ story Gaza building to any other 3+ story building) would allow Hamas to constantly infiltrate more fighters behind the Israelis. Sprayable tunnel barriers will prevent that. Israel can take small bites above and below ground simultaneously.

While Hamas does have engineers who can clear such barriers, they simply don’t have anywhere near enough, while the required explosives would be so noisy that the Israelis would know when and where the clearing was being done, and kill the Hamas engineers.

With that in mind, and that Israel has obviously prepared years for such an offensive, the conquest of northern Gaza, including its tunnels, might take 9 Israeli infantry brigades, with lots of engineers, as little as 10-14 days @ 300 casualties a day. Assuming 1500 infantry in the rifle companies of each brigade totaling 13,500, that would be 3000-4200 casualties or about 22-31% of the force involved. That’s enough to put them out of action for months. 9 more, fresh, infantry brigades would be required to conquer Gaza’s second half, so Israel is looking at 6-8 thousand casualties total.

When Israel is ready to conquer Gaza’s southern half, they will order civilians there to move to tent cities in adjacent areas of southern Israel. An Israeli general announced this several weeks ago. Hamas is unlikely to allow this, which will be tough for the civilians but some will probably survive and be cared for by Israeli medics and civil affairs personnel. The US did the same concerning stay-behind German civilians in the 1945 Battle of Aachen, and stay-behind Sunni Arab civilians in the 2004 second battle of Fallujah.

Assuming at least several hundred thousand Gaza civilians survive the Israeli conquest, Israel will have to govern them afterward, mostly because no one else wants them. It is almost certain that the survivors will hate the Israelis as much as they did before Israel gave up its occupation of Gaza in 2005, and most everyone expects enough will eventually give Israel as much trouble as they did before 2005, which was enough to convince Israel to get out then.

Israeli strategic planners have been trying to find other solutions and will likely, eventually,“chip” Gaza’s surviving civilians with pet-id type radio frequency identification (RFID) chips as the technology for that long-predicted population control system has become available.

“Chipping” here means injecting rice grain-sized computer chips into a wearer’s body, powered by body heat, containing a radio wave receiver/transmitter which will, upon receiving a radio command from an RFID device, transmit a radio signal containing the embedded identification number of the wearer. Ranges vary depending on the device. Body heat-powered ID chips can probably be picked up now at several dozen yards and that will improve with technology. Thousands of tiny RFID devices and repeaters for those would have to be covertly spread around in Gaza but that is a solvable engineering issue.

Such a population control solution would have enormous consequences, starting with Israel’s own conception of itself. But it is now feasible.




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