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Israeli Ground Assault Possibility in Gaza: A Closer Look at the Arsenal

by Ethan Kim
7 comments
Israeli-Gaza conflict

The specter of a ground assault by Israel in Gaza is on the horizon, amplifying the tensions of the ongoing conflict, which surged after an unparalleled offensive by Hamas resulting in the death of hundreds. An intensified ground conflict might draw Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Lebanese militant organization, into the fray from the north. In a move that signifies apprehensions about the conflict’s expansion, the U.S. has dispatched an aircraft carrier group to the vicinity, with another expected to join soon. The objective is to act as a deterrent to Iran and other regional actors.

This potential ground assault would mark the third significant military operation in Gaza since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the coastal strip.

ISRAEL

Historically, Israel’s military capabilities have been bolstered by the U.S., receiving an annual funding of $3.3 billion from Congress, coupled with an additional $500 million for missile defense technology advancement.

Occupying a top rank in terms of military strength in the broader Middle East, Israel boasts an air force equipped with the state-of-the-art American F-35 fighter jet, missile defense systems like the U.S.-made Patriot, and the Iron Dome missile shield.

To prepare for urban warfare scenarios, Israel has tanks, armored personnel carriers, drones, and other cutting-edge technologies at its disposal. These assets are pivotal in urban combat situations, a scenario that Israel practices at its Urban Warfare Training Center, informally dubbed “Mini Gaza.”

According to data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Israel has approximately 170,000 soldiers on active duty. For the ongoing conflict, Israel has mobilized around 360,000 reservists, which constitutes three-quarters of its total reservist capacity. It is also widely believed that Israel possesses a covert nuclear weapons program.

HAMAS

Since 2007, Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip. While lacking the substantial financial aid and advanced weaponry that Israel has, the recent surprise attacks featured militants using paragliders and drones equipped with grenades. Hamas is adept at guerrilla warfare, which may pose challenges to Israeli forces in a ground operation.

Estimations by the International Institute for Strategic Studies suggest Hamas has between 15,000 to 20,000 fighters, whereas Israeli estimates are higher, suggesting up to 30,000 militants.

In its arsenal, Hamas possesses assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, and extended-range sniper rifles. Historically, Hamas has utilized booby traps and suicide bombers. While Israel boasts an extensive missile defense system, Hamas continues its endeavors to penetrate it by launching a high volume of locally produced missiles. As of the current conflict, more than 5,000 missiles have targeted Israel. Reports from 2021 indicated that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-based militant faction, had about 30,000 missiles combined. Current analyses have yet to reveal any evidence suggesting Hamas’s development of guided missiles.

HEZBOLLAH

Hezbollah, backed by Iran and situated across Israel’s northern frontier, has engaged in limited skirmishes with Israel since the latter’s conflict with Hamas began. Israel remains wary of the capabilities Hezbollah might deploy.

While Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, claims the group has a force of 100,000, other estimates suggest the actual number is considerably lower.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has reported that Hezbollah’s weaponry mainly comprises unguided artillery rockets. U.S. intelligence posits that Hezbollah, alongside other Lebanese militant factions, possesses around 150,000 missiles and rockets. The group’s efforts to develop precision-guided missiles are ongoing.

Historically, Hezbollah has sent drones into Israeli airspace. The group’s arsenal also includes assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and improvised explosive devices.

THE UNITED STATES

To potentially provide aerial support to Israel, the U.S. Navy has stationed the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and its accompanying group in the eastern Mediterranean. The fleet is equipped with surveillance aircraft and F-18 fighter jets. The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group will soon depart from Norfolk, Virginia, bolstering U.S. naval presence in the region.

Despite its expansive network of bases in the broader Middle East, the U.S. may face restrictions on using them due to the heightened tensions and resentment generated by Israel’s rigorous airstrike campaign in Gaza. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Defense may predominantly depend on carrier-based launches for any necessary support to Israel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israeli-Gaza conflict

What are the indications of a possible Israeli ground assault in Gaza?

The rising tensions of the ongoing conflict, which surged after an unparalleled offensive by Hamas resulting in the death of hundreds, hint at the possibility of a ground assault by Israel in Gaza.

How has the U.S. responded to the escalating conflict in Gaza?

The U.S. has dispatched an aircraft carrier group to the vicinity, with another expected to join soon. The objective is to act as a deterrent to Iran and other regional actors, and to potentially provide aerial support to Israel.

What is the estimated strength of the Israeli forces?

Israel has approximately 170,000 soldiers on active duty. For the ongoing conflict, Israel has mobilized around 360,000 reservists, which constitutes three-quarters of its total reservist capacity.

What kind of weaponry does Hamas possess?

Hamas’s arsenal includes assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank weapons, extended-range sniper rifles, and a vast supply of locally produced missiles. Historically, they have also utilized booby traps and suicide bombers.

How significant is Hezbollah’s potential involvement in the conflict?

Hezbollah, backed by Iran and situated across Israel’s northern frontier, has engaged in limited skirmishes with Israel since the latter’s conflict with Hamas began. Israel remains wary of the capabilities Hezbollah might deploy, given their arsenal and proclaimed troop strength.

What is the U.S. military’s presence in the wider Middle East?

The U.S. military has stationed the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and its accompanying group in the eastern Mediterranean. They also maintain a vast network of bases across the wider Middle East. However, these bases might face restrictions on use due to the heightened tensions from Israel’s airstrike campaign in Gaza.

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7 comments

Mike J. October 12, 2023 - 7:58 pm

Was really surprised to see the extent of weaponry on both sides. it’s eye-opening.

Reply
Paul G. October 12, 2023 - 8:04 pm

Reading about Hamas’s weaponry made me realize how under-informed i’ve been. But hey, some spelling errors in the article. Editor’s asleep?

Reply
Nina T. October 12, 2023 - 9:30 pm

Hezbollah and its links with Iran is always a concerning factor. But this write up felt a bit one-sided? Just my two cents.

Reply
Linda K. October 12, 2023 - 10:02 pm

This was a really detailed breakdown. Thanks for this, but some of the sentences felt a bit long. maybe break them up next time?

Reply
Trevor B. October 13, 2023 - 8:54 am

The fact that the US has to send two aircraft carriers just shows how tense the situation is.

Reply
Sarah L October 13, 2023 - 9:01 am

Woah, didn’t know Israel had that many troops on active duty… This is crazy. We need peace, not war.

Reply
Sam R. October 13, 2023 - 6:05 pm

A ground assault sounds terrifing for civilians. Prayers for everyone’s safety. But dude, proofread your work before publishing, yeah?

Reply

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