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Israeli Army Reports Continued Military Operations in Gaza Strip Backed by Merkava Tanks

On December 4, 2023, the Israeli Ministry of Defense released a comprehensive update on the ongoing military operations in the Gaza Strip, detailing the IDF's escalating ground and air campaigns against Hamas and other terrorist factions. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) continues to use the Merkava Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) which is the backbone of the Israeli army.
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The Merkava tanks are used by the IDF to back infantry troops fighting Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Picture source Ynet News)

In a significant expansion of their operations, IDF ground forces, in coordination with the Air Force, have been intensifying their efforts across the Gaza Strip. Fighter jets have conducted precise, intelligence-based strikes, targeting key terrorist infrastructure and operatives. The combined forces have completed joint missions, leading to the elimination of multiple terrorist targets.

The operations, characterized by close-quarter combat and cautious advancement, involve ground troops moving methodically from building to building and tunnel to tunnel, avoiding areas rigged with explosives. The forces have been employing a strategy of laying charges to secure their advance, ensuring their safety while engaging in direct combat with the terrorists.

The Merkava tank, a main battle tank used by the Israeli Defense Forces, played a significant role in the Gaza War, particularly in urban warfare scenarios. The Merkava is known for its advanced armor protection, firepower, and crew survivability, making it particularly suitable for the challenges of urban combat.

In urban warfare, tanks like the Merkava must navigate narrow streets and dense environments, facing threats from various angles including anti-tank missiles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and small arms fire. The Merkava's design, with its front-mounted engine providing additional protection for the crew, and its sophisticated active protection systems, make it well-suited for such environments.

The tank's ability to fire accurately while on the move and its advanced targeting systems are crucial in urban settings, where identifying and engaging targets quickly can be the difference between success and failure. Additionally, the Merkava's troop-carrying capacity allows it to function not only as a fighting vehicle but also as an armored personnel carrier, providing versatile support in urban operations.

The use of the Merkava in the Gaza War demonstrated the evolution of tank warfare in urban settings, where traditional open-field tank battles are less common, and the ability to adapt to complex, close-quarter environments is essential. The performance of the Merkava in this context highlighted the importance of modern tank design in addressing the unique challenges of urban warfare.

Despite the rigorous tactical approach, the operations have not been without casualties. The Israeli Ministry of Defense emphasized the determination and courage of the IDF soldiers, who are committed to eliminating terrorist threats and achieving victory in every encounter, whether in Shejayia, Jabalya, or other strongholds.

The Chief of the General Staff of the IDF has conducted a situational assessment with commanders and soldiers in the Gaza Strip, analyzing operational outcomes and issuing directives to optimize field responses, particularly in light of recent combat events. These discussions also took place at the General Staff's situational assessment at the Kirya.

In addition to the Gaza operations, the IDF has extended its reach to the north, where fighter jets and UAVs struck a Hezbollah command center, terror infrastructure, and military structures in Lebanese territory. Artillery units have also targeted launch sites firing towards Israel.

The Israeli Ministry reiterated its call for public vigilance and adherence to the Home Front Command's instructions, citing the potential for encounters in the north, center, and south of the country.

A notable humanitarian concern was highlighted with the ongoing captivity of 137 hostages, abducted on October 7th and still held in Gaza. The President of the Red Cross recently visited Gaza through Egypt, aiding in the extraction of hostages during an operational pause. The Ministry demands that international organizations ensure the hostages' welfare, emphasizing the need for medical assistance and medicines.

The Israeli Defense Ministry's update underscores the complexity and intensity of the ongoing military operations, reflecting a multifaceted approach to combating terrorism while addressing humanitarian concerns.

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