Austin Bay

But the Israelis have in Gaza -- so far -- fought three weeks' worth of war with very astute shots, demonstrating that Israeli defense and intelligence agencies have learned from the 2006 Rocket War. While Hezbollah touted victory, the Israelis publicly and privately critiqued themselves. They also dissected Hezbollah's political and military operations and those of Hezbollah's sponsor, Iran. Iran also serves as Hamas' financier and collaborator.

Bottom line: Israel would not play into the "involuntary martyrdom" trap again.

What may prove to be history's most detailed and intimate "intelligence preparation of the battlefield" operation preceded the Gaza offensive. Israeli intel identified weapons caches and bunkers, then got the names and phone numbers of Gazans living near the targets. Intel also established the daily routines of Hamas leaders -- the guys who claim victory after their people are slaughtered -- and determined likely escape routes and hideouts.

Israel's anti-Hamas assault began with a concentrated, 220-second-long precision weapons attack on Hamas' leaders -- not quite the equivalent of a "sniper shot" at our Hollywood crook as he moves to grab the hostage, but based on the same concept. Phone calls to Gazans living near (or in) bunkers and weapons caches preceded attacks on those targets. Fearing their cell phones will be triangulated (and then targeted), Hamas' Gaza leaders have remained hidden and largely unavailable to mass media. That's put a lid on the victory bombast. Israeli ground troops are using probing tactics that have turned static defenses into death traps.

Yes, Gaza and southern Lebanon differ in terms of terrain and size. Indeed, Syria can quickly resupply Hezbollah. Obviously, Tehran is a long way from Israel. However, involuntary martyrs are no longer the personal and political shield they once were for Hamas' leaders. Perhaps they'll tell Hezbollah's leaders and a few of Tehran's mad mullahs. Will fear for their own skins deter rocket attacks? Hey, it's a thought.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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