Bychair 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
Yet while the use of historical analogy may be tempting for armchair pundits, in the case of Israel’s current war, the comparisons are often poorly cited, the data used inaccurate, and crucial context left out. Given the scale and context of an enemy purposely entrenched in densely populated urban areas, as well as the presence of tunnels, hostages, rockets, attackers that follow the laws of war while defenders purposely do not, and proximity between the frontlines and the home front, there is basically no historical comparison for this war.
Let’s start with the context: After Hamas crossed into Israel on Oct. 7, murdering over 1,200 Israelis in brutal ways that included mutilation and sexually assaults as well as taking over 200 hostages back into Gaza, Israel formally declared a defensive war against Hamas in Gaza in accordance with international law and the United Nations charter. Since, the IDF estimates it has killed 10,000 Hamas operatives, while Hamas claims that the total number of casualties is 24,000 (Hamas does not distinguish civilian deaths from militant deaths).