American military officials are reportedly offering guidance to Israel aimed at preventing a potentially devastating and protracted urban conflict as Israel prepares for an assault on Gaza. Multiple sources familiar with the matter have revealed that the United States is advising Israel to steer clear of the type of brutal, house-to-house combat that the US engaged in during the Iraq War.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are being urged to consider strategies that avoid a full-scale ground assault on Gaza, which could pose risks to hostages, civilians, and further escalate tensions in the region. Instead, US military advisers are encouraging Israel to employ a combination of precision airstrikes and targeted special operations raids.
In their guidance, the US advisers are drawing from lessons learned during the 2004 battle of Fallujah, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Iraq War. Fallujah was characterized by fierce urban warfare and presented numerous challenges for US forces.
To reinforce this message, the Biden administration has dispatched three-star Marine Corps General James Glynn, a seasoned expert in urban warfare, particularly in Fallujah. Gen. Glynn has direct experience commanding troops during intense fighting between US forces and insurgents in the city.
The growing concern in the US administration is that Israel's strategy, involving a large-scale ground invasion, could result in a prolonged and bloody occupation of the Gaza Strip. There are also worries about the fate of over 200 hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, the safety of trapped civilians, and the governance challenges that would arise following a ground invasion in a region with millions of Palestinians.
One source within the Biden administration expressed doubts about Israel's strategy, stating, "I don't think Israel has a strategy for what they do next" regarding a full-scale ground invasion.
The advice from US military officials underscores the complexity of the situation and the desire to find a solution that avoids further escalation and suffering in the region.