As everyone tries to read more into the announcement by Israel’s prime minister that it may allow “little tactical pauses” to let hostages out or trucks full of material aid in, fighting in Gaza continues without any letup.
Calls for a ceasefire, pause, or whatever the term might be, are mounting from all sides but Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are trying very hard to avoid losing momentum, fearing that if they stop stop, their Gaza offensive would roll backwards and help Hamas.
In the days immediately after the Hamas attacks of October 7, shocked Israelis unified behind calls for revenge, rallying behind the government and military. But, a month later, that unity at all costs may have been shaken by scenes from the front lines where the Israeli army has little to show in the way of victory and destruction of Hamas.
The unyielding aerial bombing has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians and caused almost unbelievable levels of destruction, but the number of Hamas fighters eliminated is unknown. Even if those attacks were to have killed 3,000 Qassam Brigade fighters, which is impossible to prove, the ratio must make many Israelis quite uneasy: an enormous military effort for little military gain, considering that Hamas is estimated to have 40,000 fighters.
The number of Israeli combat casualties is still low, about 30, considered acceptable, but how will society react if they start rising? Significantly more Israeli soldiers might die as the invading troops surrounding Gaza City – who have cut it off on the surface from the southern part of the Strip – take the battle underground, into the feared Hamas tunnels.
Digging tunnels for military purposes is a concept from the times of the first human settlements and it never ceased being used.
Until the invention of gunpowder, tunnels served to enter defended castles or leave besieged towns without breaking out. Gunpowder gave tunnellers the ability to set off large explosions under their enemies’ positions, to be followed by massive attacks that would take the territory.