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IDF’s Advance into Gaza Sets Stage for Prolonged Urban Conflict Amid Rising Humanitarian Concerns

01-11-2023 : A tense and potentially protracted urban guerrilla warfare scenario is unfolding as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) make deep incursions into the Gaza Strip. This escalation hints at a prolonged and painful struggle in the war-torn battleground.

On a fateful Tuesday, IDF tanks and armored carriers, accompanied by sappers, penetrated deep into the Gaza Strip, setting the stage for a looming urban guerrilla warfare situation. The implications of this move are significant, as such conflicts within densely populated urban areas often result in protracted battles with grave human consequences.

The events leading up to this development included Israeli air force planes bombing the Jabalia camp, the largest refugee camp in Gaza, causing the tragic loss of numerous Palestinian lives. This devastating attack triggered harsh criticism from Saudi Arabia, whose foreign ministry condemned it, stating that the assault on Jabalia had resulted in the loss of innocent civilian lives.

Various countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, joined in condemning the Israeli strikes. Notably, Bolivia took the bold step of severing diplomatic ties with Israel, becoming the first Latin American nation to do so. Meanwhile, Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors for consultations in a show of solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

The IDF’s military thrust initially concentrated on northwest Gaza, along the Red Sea coast, and the Beit Hanoun area northeast of Gaza City. However, confrontations between the IDF and Palestinian factions in central Gaza have been on the rise, suggesting a possible IDF strategy to encircle densely populated Gaza City.

Simultaneously, there is mounting evidence of collaborative efforts among fighters from the al-Qassam Brigades, Saraya al-Quds Brigades, and al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade—various Palestinian armed groups that appear to be uniting against their common adversary, the IDF.

In the urban landscape of Gaza, the battleground is uniquely challenging. Control of every street and alley becomes a vital objective, and advances are hindered by the congested lanes where danger looms around every corner. Tanks and heavy equipment face operational difficulties due to space constraints, providing an advantage to light and highly mobile fighters armed with smaller weapons.

The conflict has also expanded on multiple fronts, with Israel contending with the growing involvement and attacks from Hezbollah, based in Lebanon to the north, and the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi militia operating out of Yemen.

In a brief respite, the Rafah crossing to Egypt was opened on Wednesday for the first time since the October 7 attacks. This allowed foreign passport holders and seriously wounded Gazans to exit the conflict zone. The situation has led to a significant movement of around 800,000 Palestinians from Gaza to the south, following a call from the IDF to relocate, raising humanitarian concerns related to overcrowding in these areas. The unfolding urban guerrilla warfare in Gaza presents a complex and challenging conflict scenario, with profound consequences for both the region and its people.