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  • Writer's pictureGeopolitics.Λsia

Metro Gaza: The Long or the Short War?

Updated: Jan 18

In response to Hamas's lethal offensives that have targeted Israeli citizens and foreign nationals alike, Israel's newly formed war cabinet has escalated its campaign with the initiation of a protracted "ground operation" in the Gaza Strip, following a string of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) aerial assaults. While the IDF adopts a measured, step-by-step approach in Northern Gaza, the crux of the operation lies beneath the surface—in "Metro Gaza," a complex web of underground tunnels constructed by Hamas over the years. Simultaneously, international voices decrying a looming humanitarian crisis are growing louder. The United States, wielding its veto power, offers conditional support to Israel while urging compliance with the established laws of armed engagement. This article will scrutinize the realpolitik underscoring the United Nations Security Council's decisions—a perspective often overshadowed by the more utopian lenses of international relations theory. Additionally, we will assess various AI technologies in terms of their analytical contributions to the ongoing conflict.



Photo Source: Google Earth; Gaza Strip, Red Arrows Indicate IDF Invasion Routes



In response to a significant assault by Hamas on October 7, Israel executed its most extensive military activation to date. Yet, the ground incursion into Gaza this past weekend was more circumscribed than many observers had forecasted. Inside sources from Israel's government indicate that this moderated scale serves a complex array of tactical and strategic objectives. At the core of these considerations is Israel's intent to leverage its military superiority over Hamas to minimize its own losses, while also being cautious not to involve other potential adversaries in the conflict.


On a tactical level, the limited scope of the operation allows for more streamlined air support, essential for making headway into the heavily fortified regions in northern Gaza. In these areas, Hamas has spent years building up strong defenses. As a result, Israeli ground forces are moving with a substantial degree of aerial and artillery cover, focused on eliminating any immediate threats, according to officials familiar with the battle strategies.



Source: Interactive Map: Israel's Operation in Gaza


Reports also indicate that the combat environment in Gaza will be challenging, given Hamas's preparedness for urban warfare. The group has constructed a vast underground tunnel system, often referred to as the "Gaza Metro," which serves the dual purpose of concealing the movement of fighters and weaponry. This network complements Hamas's substantial cache of anti-tank munitions and homemade explosives. Recently, Israeli forces had a skirmish with Hamas operatives who emerged from a tunnel near the Erez border crossing, foreshadowing the kinds of engagements that are likely to occur in the future.



The challenges of fighting in such a terrain are manifold. Urban combat settings offer countless locations for enemy fighters to hide and execute ambushes. When Israeli forces remain stationary, they become more susceptible to attacks, leading to a strategy of slow but continual movement. The objective is to secure already-cleared zones meticulously while advancing cautiously into new areas. This approach aims to mitigate the risks inherent in urban and subterranean warfare, which are amplified in the deteriorated infrastructural conditions of Gaza.



Israel's War Cabinet


As Israel's war cabinet strategizes its next moves in the conflict, many are drawing comparisons to the decisive Six-Day War, hinting at the ambitious objectives that might underpin current military actions. At the helm is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, long known for his hawkish rhetoric but cautious in action, now possibly cornered into a large-scale operation he had previously avoided. His cabinet includes Yoav Gallant, a man of action pushing for a transformative outcome; Benny Gantz, a cautious tactician demanding an exit strategy; Aryeh Deri, whose political clout has been mired by legal troubles; Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s right-hand man on foreign policy; and Gadi Eisenkot, a no-nonsense military man with a realistic view on the capabilities and limits of the Israeli military.





Profiles


Benjamin Netanyahu


A commanding figure in Israeli politics, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spent nearly 14 years in office, during which he's positioned himself as Israel's ultimate authority on security. However, the veteran of the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit has drawn criticism for a cautious approach that contrasts sharply with his assertive rhetoric. Although he did authorize a limited incursion into Gaza in 2014, he's often stopped short of full-scale military interventions. The recent assault by Hamas has pressured Netanyahu into action, leaving him little room for his usual reticence.


Yoav Gallant


Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a former Southern Command leader, leans more towards military action than his Prime Minister. With experience leading troops against Hamas in 2008-09, Gallant has long expressed his frustration over the limited scope of past operations. Assertive and outspoken, Gallant recently pledged a military response so significant that it could alter Gaza's reality for the next half-century, highlighting the ideological and strategic friction between him and Netanyahu.


Benny Gantz


An opponent turned ally, Benny Gantz was Netanyahu's primary political challenger until recent events drastically shifted the political landscape. A seasoned military man, Gantz's credentials include paratrooper service and a tenure as Chief of Staff during the 2014 Gaza war. Unlike Netanyahu and Gallant, Gantz has insisted on a clear post-war plan for Gaza, revealing a more measured approach to military engagement.


Ron Dermer


Dubbed Netanyahu's "brain," Ron Dermer serves as the Minister of Strategic Affairs and has been instrumental in Israel's foreign policy maneuvers, including efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia. A fluent communicator, he has been a vital link between Israel and its most crucial security partner, the United States.


Gadi Eisenkot


A pragmatist at heart, Gadi Eisenkot succeeded Benny Gantz as Israel's military Chief of Staff. Elected to parliament as part of the National Unity alliance, Eisenkot carries extensive experience dealing with Iran-backed groups in Syria and Lebanon. Unlike some of his more hawkish colleagues, Eisenkot remains focused and realistic about the complexities of eradicating Hamas.


Aryeh Deri


Once a powerful figure in Israeli politics, Aryeh Deri's influence has waned due to legal entanglements, including a conviction for bribery and fraud. Recently dismissed from his ministerial positions due to these convictions, his role in the current administration remains uncertain.


 

UNSC Veto Dance


In the hallowed chambers of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the power play among nations unfolds with a stark clarity. Here, the veto—the quintessence of a permanent member’s prerogative—often takes center stage, casting long shadows over global geopolitics. The recent Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine conflicts have brought this into sharp relief, offering a tableau of how major powers maneuver within the UNSC's framework.





The U.S., with its traditional allies, often finds itself on one side of the divide, while China and Russia, with their own coterie of allies, stand on the other. The veto, a tool designed to prevent unilateral action and preserve the delicate balance of international order, reveals itself in both conflicts as a double-edged sword—both a shield and a cudgel.


In the Israel-Hamas conflict, various resolutions aimed at condemning violence, urging humanitarian aid, or calling for a ceasefire found themselves at the mercy of the veto. The US, wary of resolutions it deemed premature or one-sided, wielded its veto power to block proposals, including those condemning violence against civilians and calling for humanitarian pauses​​. Meanwhile, Russia and China, in a rare display of discord with the U.S., vetoed a resolution calling for pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid access​.


Shifting the lens to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the UNSC witnessed Russia's veto power in action, blocking resolutions that condemned its actions in Ukraine​. China, on the other hand, tread a more neutral path, abstaining from votes that directly criticized Russia's actions. This abstention, far from a mere non-action, speaks volumes in the language of geopolitics, offering a nuanced yet clear stance on the global stage.





The dynamics reached a zenith when, in a landmark UN General Assembly meeting, China and Russia defended their vetoes concerning a US proposal for new sanctions on North Korea, amidst a backdrop of international frustration over vetoes blocking actions on the Ukraine issue​.


The orchestration of veto power, as witnessed in these contemporary scenarios, mirrors the intricate dance of realpolitik, where each move and countermove on the UNSC floor is a manifestation of the deep-seated national interests and strategic alliances. The veto, a legacy of the Concert of Europe, continues to play a pivotal role in the narrative of international diplomacy, embodying both the strengths and the limitations of the UNSC as a harbinger of global peace and security.


Yet, as the global tableau becomes ever more complex, the call for a re-examination of the veto power and the UNSC's structure resounds with a growing urgency. The dance continues, but with an ever-evolving choreography responding to the rhythm of contemporary global challenges.


These unfolding scenarios in the UNSC reflect a broader narrative of global power dynamics, where the veto acts as both a facilitator and a barrier to concerted international action. The dialectic between the preservation of sovereign interests and the pursuit of collective global goals continues to shape the discourse in the UNSC, echoing the age-old tussle between the principles of sovereignty and collective action.


 

Our Assessment


Based on our analysis of real-time data from Google's GDELT, which compiles and updates global social media and news articles every 15 minutes, there is a clear trend of negative sentiment surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. With an Average Tone (AVGTone) peaking at -6.089 for about 180 articles, followed by -5.117 and -7.851 for around 175 to 150 articles respectively, the geopolitical implications are decidedly unfavorable. However, a closer examination of the sources indicates that the focus of these reports is largely confined to Israel and Gaza. The data suggests that the conflict has not yet regionalized to an extent that would involve a broader set of actors like Iran in a more overt manner.








Given that the war has not escalated to involve Iran in a significant way, the immediate impact seems somewhat contained, reducing the likelihood of drawing the United States into a larger conflict theater at this point. It is a noteworthy observation considering the ever-present undercurrents that Iran could play a more active role, which would inevitably expand the scope and complexity of the conflict. Nevertheless, it's crucial to consider several factors that may influence the trajectory of this conflict.


Firstly, any military operation must be time-limited due to increasing international pressure, particularly from the United Nations, concerning the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. Secondly, there is a growing call for long-term solutions to the conflict. Proposals such as the two-state solution and "A Plan for Peace in Gaza: The Reforms That Could Allow the PLO to Lead and the Palestinian Authority to Govern" by Salam Fayyad have been suggested as feasible paths toward a more lasting peace. Post-conflict, it's imperative for Israel to reevaluate policies deemed as apartheid and annexation, as argued in an OpEd by Yusuf Al Otaiba, to foster a more sustainable and inclusive environment.


Moreover, our comparative analysis across multiple AI platforms—OpenAI's GPT-4, Google's PaLM2, Cohere's Coral, Meta's LLaMa2, Antropic's Claude2, Inflection AI's PI, and Perplexity.AI—has provided valuable insights. Across various related keywords pertaining to the Israel-Hamas situation, the performance of these AIs has been as expected. While the platforms do vary in specific capacities, their general performance indicates a robust ability to analyze and potentially predict future trends in this conflict.



Google's PaLM2 (via api)



Perplexity (with RAG)



Inflection's Pi



Cohere's Coral (with RAG)



Meta's LLaMa2



OpenAI's GPT-4



In summary, while the sentiment surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict is notably negative, its immediate geopolitical impact appears limited, and the data intelligence we have gathered from multiple advanced AI platforms corroborates this observation.



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