The latest clashes between Israel and Hamas took the world by surprise. Despite the heavy presence of IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) troops in the southwestern part of Israel and around the Gaza Strip, Hamas fighters launched a massive surprise attack with devastating results for both the Israeli military assets there and civilians in settlements along the border. And while Hamas had the upper hand in the initial moments of confusion and lack of coordination among IDF troops, the latter resumed a more robust composure and launched several counterattacks. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) was the first to launch direct attacks on targets in Gaza, with airstrikes destroying command posts and munitions storage areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IDF will soon launch a massive land operation in Gaza. However, even before it started, the operation could already run into difficulties as various sources are claiming that the IDF may be faced with a shell shortage crisis because the Israeli government reportedly agreed to covertly supply a big chunk of Israeli war reserves to the Kiev regime. And while Israeli officials have been careful not to antagonize Russia and keep denying any involvement with the Neo-Nazi junta, various reports by the mainstream media claim that Israel has agreed to transfer at least some American weapons and munitions (particularly 155 mm artillery shells) stored in Israel.
As a result, the Pentagon will now be forced to make a tough strategic decision. Either support the Kiev regime forces or the IDF. The former is much more dependent on the artillery component of its armed forces, while the latter relies primarily on air superiority. However, this is the first time since 2006 that Israel is launching a major land operation and it will need its artillery component more than ever before. Launching airstrikes on every single position held by Hamas is simply not viable, as it dispersed most of its troops all across the Gaza Strip. This is where artillery comes into play. The IDF will surely try to complete the operation as soon as possible, but it’s difficult to determine how long it could last.
If the fighting ends up becoming a stalemate, Israel will need a constant supply of artillery munitions, which isn’t a very good prospect for the Neo-Nazi junta forces. As the much-touted counteroffensive failed, the Kiev regime will soon need to go on the defense. If the Russian military decides to launch a counteroffensive of its own, the need for US-made artillery shells will be exponentially amplified, as the Neo-Nazi junta forces simply have no other way to hold their lines. Artillery duels against the Russian military became the staple of the confrontation when the frontlines stabilized in most areas of Ukraine. Moscow already had a major advantage even with this US/NATO support.
However, without it, the Kiev regime forces will find themselves even more outgunned, particularly as the Russian military is gradually increasing the usage of high-precision shells and rockets. Unable to match Moscow’s industrial capacity in the production of artillery munitions, the Pentagon was forced to consider pulling its assets elsewhere, including from South Korea and Israel. Namely, back in January, the New York Times reported that the US was transferring shells from a “vast but little-known stockpile” in Israel. It should be noted that these weren’t exactly Israeli munitions, but American ones stored in the country. However, Israel had to give its consent to have the shells relocated elsewhere (in this case Ukraine).
According to Business Insider, the Pentagon transferred more than two million 155 mm shells from its own stockpiles, but this was still only a fraction of what the Russian military was able to muster. However, even this was from old stockpiles and the production facilities were unable to match the Neo-Nazi junta’s needs. In September, the US claimed that it would produce 100,000 155 mm shells per month by 2025. For comparison, it produced 14,000 in early 2023, a far cry from what the Kiev regime needs, as it spends up to 6,000 shells per day. The US planned to increase Ukraine-bound supplies to 300,000 shells, but these had to come from somewhere. Israeli officials denied any direct involvement.
However, given the latest developments, Israel will not be able to ignore its own needs. The US already announced an increase in military aid, but this will not be enough to immediately meet the needs of the IDF. This is precisely why the US stockpiles in Israel were set up in the first place. Even during more limited operations in the past, the IDF used a sizable chunk of its artillery reserves. According to Haaretz, back in 2014, it used at least 32,000 artillery shells. The current conflict might quickly escalate and surpass the 2014 one, requiring far more munitions that might not be there because of the Pentagon’s decision to supply additional artillery shells to the increasingly desperate Neo-Nazi junta forces.
Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.