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Mid-Morning Art Thread | Main | Surprise! One of Hunter Biden's Shell Companies Made Direct Payments to Joe Biden's Bank Account
December 05, 2023

Was the Ceasefire Worth It? [Diogenes]

So. CBD has asked me to bore you all with another installment of Divination by Diogenes. I agreed to do so as he has made vague references to an upgrade to full blown tin foil membership and a week’s supply of dental floss. So here goes…

Two points to think about today. The first is what did Israel gain from the ceasefire? Was it really worth pausing the successful ground campaign? Short (and long) answer is yes and you’ll see my thinking shortly. The second is that now is time to begin thinking about The Day After Hamas. What happens when Israel finally crushes Hamas, somebody representing the Palestinians surrenders, and the war is over?

But first, why the pause in the fighting in the first place? The easy answer is because of the hostages. OK, sure. They were important, but taking a broader view, there are many other advantages that the Israeli Defense forces (IDF) gained from the pause.


First, they never really let up the pressure on Hamas. Yes, there was a general cessation to fighting, but almost every break by Hamas in the ceasefire was met with an overwhelming response. Further, the IDF continued to maneuver their forces and this worked to keep Hamas off balance.

Second, the IDF was able to consolidate their gains. This allowed them to dig in, secure their lines of communications and logistics and neutralize any undiscovered IEDs and, yes, I’ll say it because I’m an old curmudgeon…booby traps. (And not the Joe Mannix kind) The pressure brought by the IDF in these areas also prevented Hamas “stay-behinds” from causing much mischief.

Third, it gave them time to interrogate prisoners and the hostages to get better intelligence on Hamas. The Palestinians are not a monolithic group and are composed of a number of clans. There are many who are done with Hamas, or were never real supporters to begin with, and who are willing to provide the IDF with valuable battlefield data. You can bet this information will figure into the next phase of the war. We will probably see this borne out as we evaluate the IDF actions in the days ahead.

Fourth, it gave Israel time to rest and refit their troops. This is hugely important. A month and a half is a long time on the lines. Those troops needed a break if only for a few days. It will make a big difference in the next phase. And these are now the experts in this war. They have learned how to fight Hamas and will be passing this knowledge to others.

Fifth, and linked to #4, this break allowed Israel to begin to deploy some of the 150,000 Plus Reserves that have been called up and who have been returning to Israel from around the world. It takes time to bring a reservist up to speed. Figure a week to get back and sign into the Unit. Another week or two to draw their equipment and start basic battle training. And this is true of every returning soldier, regardless of the soldier’s specialty. Another week to get the unit spun up and then figure out where to put them. Then off they go. Clearly it is not an overnight thing. A month is reasonable. As a result, Hamas now faces a significantly larger force.

Next, this operational pause allowed the IDF leadership to evaluate where they are, what they have accomplished, what plans need to be modified, and lastly, how to proceed. This evaluation begins at the squad level with what we call a hot wash. Sergeants talking to their soldiers…what happened and why? What is working against Hamas? What isn’t? What have we learned? And these lessons get passed up the chain through the platoons, companies and battalions. Every Brigade commander has met with his subordinates and have met with their commanders. The information gained is being shared across the Gaza Front and with the forces deployed against the West Bank and Lebanon. It is making the IDF soldier a better fighter.

Next, the pause and the release of hostages created a wave of compassion for the hostages as their stories were made public. It also fueled the fire within the IDF to continue the mission. Everywhere Netanyahu has gone to visit the troops, the common call was to “Turn us loose!” and “Let us finish!” Those soldiers know why they are there. They smell victory and they want it. The hostage release has also shed light on the international stage. Nations, the UN, NGOs, and influential people are beginning to declare themselves to a side. This will influence the political arena in the days ahead.

Another advantage, albeit an unfortunate one, are the new Hamas atrocities are occurring as their fighters initiate attacks within Israel (the bus stop shootings). These acts continue to legitimize Israel’s war and the next phase of its campaign. Hamas’ actions are reminding the world why Israel is there fighting in Gaza. Discoveries like the hidden military equipment in UN crates is another recent example. The media may try hard to ignore it, but they cannot ignore the facts.

Lastly, the pause gave the IDF time to refine and continue to employ psyops against both the Hamas fighters and the Palis in general. As mentioned above, Hamas and the Palestinians are not a single homogenous group. While the Palis generally support Hamas, this support is not set in stone and not unanimous. Thousands of civilians have lost their good paying jobs in Israel. Thousands have been killed and thousands more injured. Several hundred thousand have been displaced. War is ugly and brutal. And all of this is because of Hamas. In turn, Israel is going out of its way, as much as it can, to prevent the slaughter of civilians. Acts such as identifying safe passage routes, notice of pending attacks, and some humanitarian relief show the average civilian that Israel isn’t there to kill them, just to eliminate Hamas. If you are a Pali husband trying to get your wife and family out along a safe route, and Hamas soldiers shoot you for doing so, it tends to give credence to Israel’s story. The Palestinian people aren’t dumb. They see this. They get it. And from this the IDF will benefit from better local intelligence, better compliance by the civilians, and, perhaps, in the days ahead, open opposition to what is left of Hamas.

We shall see.

OK…I said two points…the second being The Day After Hamas.

Look for that in the next installment.

["Diogenes" has multiple graduate degrees with a focus on the Middle East, and an Army Intelligence Officer graduate of both the Army and USMC Command and Staff Colleges.]

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