Israel Has Created a New Standard for Urban Warfare. Why Will No One Admit It?

Apr 1, 2024 by

By John Spencer, Newsweek.

(John Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point; served for 25 years as an infantry soldier and two tours in Iraq)

The Israel Defense Forces conducted an operation at al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip to root out Hamas terrorists recently, once again taking unique precautions as it entered the facility to protect the innocent; Israeli media reported that doctors accompanied the forces to help Palestinian patients if needed. They were also reported to be carrying food, water and medical supplies for the civilians inside.

None of this meant anything to Israel’s critics, of course, who immediately pounced. The critics, as usual, didn’t call out Hamas for using protected facilities like hospitals for its military activity. Nor did they mention the efforts of the IDF to minimize civilian casualties.

In their criticism, Israel’s opponents are erasing a remarkable, historic new standard Israel has set. In my long career studying and advising on urban warfare for the U.S. military, I’ve never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy’s civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings. In fact, by my analysis, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history—above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The international community, and increasingly the United States, barely acknowledges these measures while repeatedly excoriating the IDF for not doing enough to protect civilians—even as it confronts a ruthless terror organization holding its citizens hostage. Instead, the U.S. and its allies should be studying how they can apply the IDF’s tactics for protecting civilians, despite the fact that these militaries would almost certainly be extremely reluctant to employ these techniques because of how it would disadvantage them in any fight with an urban terrorist army like Hamas.

Read here.

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