Irregulars mixed with Civilians against Regulars
The structure of Hamas‘s military deployment is based on the «short brigade«, which is a tactical operational unit widely used by irregular or partisan or guerrilla forces, when they reach a certain development in their military capabilities and deployments. These Hamas´ “short brigades” have between 1,000 and 1,500 men in their combat order, depending on their basic weapons. The most numerous are infantry and elite. They also have some independent companies specialized in adequate short staffing.
The brigades lack defense against aircraft or armored units as such or organic field artillery. This necessarily turns them into light irregular forces, capable of fighting in a mobile manner and using irregular fighting tactics. Looking more for their mobility and areas not adequately defended in the enemy deployment. The rejection in urban areas gives them extra effectiveness, protection and security against the regular military enemy. Since populations form or are molded into a multitude of hiding places, passageways, tunnels and relative hiding heights (floors, parks, gutters, windows, balconies, roofs and gaps in different classes of walls).
Intersections of major urban streets, high-rise buildings and steel-frame buildings (especially factories) can mainly form the core of defense delay points. The nests of resistance depend on these strong positions. Of them there are a large number, also as alternative positions. These nests, when active, are manned by two or three men and may be staffed by riflemen or a light machine gun, also forming an anti-tank or sniper position. In the interior patios of the houses, even on rooftops, they deploy their 80 or 60 mm mortars, whose position is changed as soon as they launch a few bombs. All of this gives cohesion to a defense position that operates in a sector of the Gaza Strip.
Normally, except in the final moments of an assault, civilians remain intertwined with irregular Hamas positions. The loss of Palestinian civilians is one of the collateral objectives “desired” by Hamas. To present to the world and discredit Israel for its “Asymmetrical against Unarmed Civilians” fight. Until now, the Palestinian civilian death toll is about 300 a day on average. A disturbingly tolerable number of “martyrs of Islam and its Minor Jihad.” The Mayor or Real Jihad is the Muslim Effort in the Path of Allah.
Among the few tens of thousands of Hamas militiamen, no more than 30% are currently trained to use time-limited defense as a form of fighting. These “urban irregular Islamists” protect themselves by extending their defensive positions beyond what is necessary in a conventional defense, thus covering a greater controlled surface. These “fortress” are diffuse, hidden and even imperceptible to outsiders. In just a few hours, the previous works are completed and reinforced. Their communication ways require more work time, but are also less obvious. You have to enter houses to detect perforated walls and find passageways or real tunnels under a piece of furniture or a rug. In their defensive struggle they try to cause the military enemy the highest possible losses and force him again and again to reorganize and redirect his deployment. But they always do it without exposing themselves excessively to a fight at short distances, to being overwhelmed or to losing their freedom of action. This is inexorably linked to the cession of urban space to the military. To do this, they withdraw at the moment they deem appropriate from the direct attack of their enemy, not from their extensive, imprecise bombardment or cannonade. And so it is announced, again and again, that this or that city has been liberated from “bitter enemies.”
Occupying towns is technically the same as raiding a block, an apartment block or a house. How is this? Because the structure of the objectives is similar: walls, spaces between walls and gaps in the walls. There are three stages of attacking a town: isolating it, entering and settling in it, and fighting inside against the defenders.
Isolation implies occupying or covering with effective and seamless medium and heavy fire all possible obvious and hidden escape routes for the rebels, from a certain distance to the population. Likewise, all water, energy and communications services must be cut off externally. As there is a possibility that a nearby enemy band will come to harass or distract the surrounded group to help them escape, it is necessary to establish an external fence at a certain distance from the inner fence, equally ferreous and without views or fire gaps, which covers all possible approach routes. We will call ring the sufficient space created between both discontinuous fences to provide protection, supplies and shelter to the assault forces. Throughout the ring, double sentries will be placed at sensitive points, reinforced by small mobile patrols, intended to thwart rebel infiltration in both directions. The ring will contain 2 mobile reserves of variable size, placed in opposite directions (e.g. north-south), to repel serious breach attempts. Command of the defense of the ring will be carried out by a single commander, different from the attacker command.
A good approach route must allow the attacker to take advantage of a space not covered by the defense and reach his objective without initial loss of his combat capacity. Sewer networks may contain booby traps. And here there are no adjoining forests to provide concealment and cover for the heavy fire. Given that the rebel defender is surely going to retreat from the urban edges, defended only by combat outposts, it will be best to reach the first selected positions inside the urban perimeter in a first push. Entries can be searched from multiple directions. And even to avoid civilian casualties, do some prior preparation on the exterior prominent buildings, starting with bursts of heavy machine guns and then using artillery or helicopter gunships.
As an example, a platoon would advance following the layout of an Arab street. One section would go inside the buildings on one side and the other through those in front, covering him with their light automatic fire. The third section would follow behind, alternately on either side. The forward observers attached to the Ugda (or Israeli brigade), whose plural is Ugdot, could go with it, while the direct heavy fire means would follow behind down the street. Tasks would be exchanged between sections. The reinforced company would advance along one or two semi-parallel streets and relieve the sections after a time. You would have a section in reserve to eliminate flanking attacks or hidden snipers.
The reinforced battalion would attack in a sector of the city, maintain the cohesion of the effort with the higher command plans, give the initiative in combat to the companies and guarantee a continuous and sufficient flow of equipment and material from its rearguard. It would also facilitate heavy fire support and have sections for clearing enemy, hidden or flanking positions.
Why is it not used?
And why is this not done systematically? I still vaguely remember the news about the high award-winning Captain Palacios and his comrades, after years of harsh captivity as prisoners of war in the USSR, arriving on the “Semiramis” at the Barcelona port.
I am also very fresh with the views and statements of all kinds of the 15 British sailors and marines, in March 2007: after their capture in supposed Iranian waters, their illegal display (against the Geneva Convention) before the cameras, their emotional farewell to President Mahmud (it could be pronounced Mammoth) and to Iran and his return home, immediately selling profitable news exclusives, in exchange for sensitive data not being leaked to the public.
They are examples of what we can expect in general from the ultra-technical Western soldiers of the 21st century. Radicalized fanatical Islamists will be rubbing their hands and renewing their resolve, inside and outside our borders. Well, that’s why…