Israel has announced that it will soon launch a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
A geopolitical expert stationed with the U.S. Marines in Fallujah said it would be “absolute hell.”
He said Gaza’s dense population and Hamas’ vast underground tunnels would pose a challenge.
Israel’s expected ground invasion of Gaza will be far more destructive and difficult than the “absolute hell” that US Marines experienced in Fallujah, Iraq, a geopolitical expert has said.
“Based on what I experienced in Fallujah, there can only be chaos because you are dealing with hardened, as we know, well-trained and disciplined opponents.”
Kaplan discussed the so-called First Battle of Fallujah, codenamed Operation Vigilant Resolve, an attack on the central Iraqi city and a hotbed of the insurgency that began after the death and mutilation of four U.S. contractors before their burned bodies were hung over a bridge crossing .
The event, broadcast worldwide, sparked widespread outrage in the United States. Troops from the 1st Marine Division attempted to take the city. After three weeks of fighting, 27 US soldiers lay dead, an estimated 600 Iraqi civilians and 200 insurgents were killed.
Kaplan noted that any ground invasion of Gaza would also likely result in large civilian casualties.
Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Over two million people live in a 140 square mile strip.
“Remember that Fallujah was far less densely populated then than Gaza is today. There were no underground tunnels or anything like that,” he said. “There was nothing like residential buildings right next to each other like in Gaza City. I don’t know how this can be done.”
He said the Marines’ opponents in Fallujah were more familiar with the urban terrain and that fire often came from multiple directions.
While the Marines only attacked young men with weapons in Fallujah, they could not avoid hitting civilians, he said, which would likely be the case in Gaza as well.
Hamas also has a well-developed network of tunnels under the strip, which it uses for weapons smuggling and undetected movement.
He said his experience in Fallujah was “absolute hell,” although on paper it was “far less daunting than what the Israelis are facing.”
He said an offensive in Gaza would be far more complex, despite massive advances in warfare technology and Israel’s greater air support than the Marines.
Kaplan said Israeli forces must find “the sweet spot between restoring deterrence and all-out, Stalingrad-style warfare.”
He said preventing a full-scale Russian-style invasion would be easier to manage. Instead, multiple units could enter Gaza with specific targets rather than trying to take the entire city.
In the Second Battle of Fallujah in November 2004, US-led forces actually used more sophisticated tactics. After fierce fighting, the city was occupied and two thirds of the 300,000 residents fled.
After a deadly attack by the group on October 7, Israeli officials have signaled they are ready to launch an immediate ground offensive in the northern Gaza Strip to root out Hamas militants.
The Hamas attacks killed at least 1,400 Israelis, and subsequent Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 3,000 Palestinians each year Reuters.
Hamas has also brought over 200 hostages to Gaza, and it is unclear where they are being held.
Residents of the northern Gaza Strip have fled south after Israeli forces issued an evacuation order, leaving one million people internally displaced, according to United Nations estimates.
Israel has called up around 360,000 reservists following the Hamas attacks, and officials have indicated that the offensive will and will begin soon “long and intense.”
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