Over the past couple months Israel's army has drawn up a new set of battle plans for the next time it is forced to invade the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reported.
During its December 2008-January 2009 incursion into Gaza to halt incessant Hamas rocket fire, the Israeli army dropped millions of leaflets over Palestinian towns and made hundreds of thousands of phone calls to homes in Gaza warning residents to evacuate areas where fighting was likely to take place.
Whether out of stubbornness or because they were afraid to flee for fear of Hamas reprisals, very few Gazans moved out of combat zones, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths.
The UN-commissioned Goldstone Report largely blamed Israel for those deaths, even referring to them as "war crimes," though Israel pointed out that under international law, Hamas must bear the blame for using the civilian population of Gaza as a human shield while attacking Israelis.
Even if Israel has the moral high ground, it is not taking any chances should another Gaza invasion become necessary, and few believe it won't. When next the IDF enters Gaza, it will still give prior notice to residents of attack plans (effectively killing the element of surprise), but will also advance on Hamas positions far more slowly so that locals will have time to flee as the fighting gets underway.
Some have pointed out the extraordinary risk Israel takes with such measures from a military standpoint. Not only does Israel forfeit any element of surprise, but gives its enemies more than ample time to set up defenses that could result in much higher casualties among IDF soldiers. No other Western army provides such luxuries to its enemies.
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