Israeli forces are fighting hard to win their first battle against Hamas, a savage and tenacious enemy

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
By Paul Martin

DEBKA.com
July 22, 2014

The battle for Shejaiya, the Hamas stronghold on Gaza City’s outskirts, was still unresolved Tuesday, July 22, indicating that the Islamists were not giving up. Indeed, fresh Hamas reinforcements appeared to have taken up new positions in the battle zone during the night. They may have arrived through Hamas’ many-branched tunnel system.
Every few hours, the IDF spokesman releases two sets of figures: Israeli casualty statistics and the number of IDF strikes against Hamas. He has little to say about Israel’s military movements. Neither Israeli nor foreign correspondents have been permitted to accompany IDF troops fighting in the Gaza Strip – a policy the IDF has pursued since the second Lebanon war of 2006. Military leaders are therefore free to manage the data, human and electronic, coming out of the war, including images from the various fronts, without independent coverage. The public sees the same IDF surveillance footage day after day.
This policy reduces the hazards faced by Israeli forces and keeps their scale and identities secret from the enemy – and that is good for Israel’s war effort.
On the other hand, it creates a widening gap between the “official version” and the real state of affairs on the battlefield. Since most people have access to relatives on the front – not to mention prolific rumor mills powered by the social media – the credibility of national war leaders suffers.

Official communiqués are studded with impressive figures. Tuesday morning, the IDF was reported to have struck 3,200 Hamas targets since the start of the operation. In the last four days, the soldiers located 23 secret tunnels and 36 shafts leading into Hamas’ subterranean complex, and killed 186 Hamas operatives in combat. Israel lost 27 officers and men in the same period.

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