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Lacking strategy, Israel heads for war of attrition in Gaza

A new military doctrine was supposed to keep Israeli troops out of messy urban insurgencies. But political dysfunction and disinterest in winning over local populations helped lead the IDF straight into a quagmire in Gaza, military analysts say.
Destroyed buildings are pictured in area near the border with the Gaza Strip and southern Israel on July 2, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas.

This is an excerpt from Security Briefing, Al-Monitor's weekly newsletter covering defense and conflict developments in the Middle East. To get Security Briefing in your inbox, sign up here.

WASHINGTON — In 1999, Yagil Henkin, then a major in the Israeli army, was part of a team tasked with drawing up a doctrine manual on urban warfare and counterinsurgency. But the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rejected it. 

“We were told by very high echelons of the army that we were mad,” Henkin told Security Briefing. “We were talking about urban warfare with tanks and artillery and aircraft support, and nobody would ever let us go into the Palestinian territories like that.”

The draft manual was shelved. The following year, the second intifada broke out. 

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