General Petraeus urges Israel to consider counterinsurgency strategy in Gaza

General Petraeus urges Israel to consider counterinsurgency strategy in Gaza

Shafaq News / The Israeli newspaper "Times of Israel" reported that former US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who also served as the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), believed that Israel is on its way to achieving victory in its war in Gaza.

However, based on his military experience in Iraq, he warned that "Israel must focus on a counterinsurgency strategy later if it wants to prevent Hamas from returning."

The Israeli newspaper described General Petraeus as instrumental in changing the course of the war in Iraq and now considers it essential for Israel to destroy Hamas as it approaches victory in Gaza.

Petraeus, who led the "surge" campaign in 2007 and 2008 as the US commander, emphasized during a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv that Israel must prevent Hamas from returning to power by focusing on counterinsurgency. He added that it is "inescapable".

The report mentioned that "insurgency" has become a common concept, especially after World War II, where local forces fight against colonial rule to change the existing political system. These fighters often hide among civilians from the armies defending the existing political system.

According to General Petraeus, "To defeat insurgency, one must follow a "counterinsurgency" approach that focuses on the population rather than solely on the enemy, aiming to win the support of the public and isolate the insurgents from them."

In Petraeus's theory, "killing the enemy only helps if it enhances security for the population and creates the necessary space for developing legitimate economic and political institutions. Otherwise, eliminating insurgents may recruit more fighters than those destroyed, resulting in counterproductive outcomes."

The report highlighted that when General Petraeus took over the allied efforts in Iraq in February 2007, insurgents seemed to be on the path to victory. Baghdad witnessed daily sectarian violence with up to 150 deaths.

The report stated that General George Casey sought to reduce losses by minimizing the large US military presence and handing over control to Iraqi forces. Through his 19-month mission, Petraeus radically changed the course of the war.

The report quoted Petraeus saying, "You have to understand the big ideas correctly."

Moving to a population-focused approach was Petraeus's big idea, where he deployed over 20,000 soldiers, moving them from large bases to work among the population to provide security.

The report indicated that due to Petraeus's policy, during his time in Iraq, American military deaths decreased from the highest level of 126 in May 2007 to an average of fewer than 11 per month after June 2008. Additionally, civilian deaths dropped from 1,700 to 200 per month during the same period.

The report mentioned that because of these results, historian Victor Davis Hanson included Petraeus's name in his book "The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost - From Ancient Greece to Iraq".

The report continued that General Petraeus now wants to see Israel act according to this strategy in Gaza. He believes it is necessary to defeat Hamas, as it, in his view, "cannot be reconciled", likening it to Al-Qaeda or ISIS.

General Petraeus expressed concern about what might happen in Gaza after Hamas's military infrastructure is destroyed.

He stated that "when Hamas is destroyed as a military organization, remnants remain, including individual terrorists, rebels, and extremists." He emphasized the importance of establishing secure and fenced communities where local residents provide basic services to prevent Hamas from regaining foothold in their communities.

The main flaw in the "counterinsurgency" policy, especially for Israel, according to Petraeus, is that it requires a lot of manpower and time. He noted, "It takes a huge number of forces to implement control operations, but if that does not happen, we will end up with the enemy reshaping its ranks."

The report mentioned that Petraeus received an invitation from Defense Minister Yoav Galant and the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense Eyal Zamir to discuss the war. Petraeus said, "They realize that reconstruction is the challenge, and they understand these dynamics."

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