IDF soldiers leaving the Gaza Strip
Operation Protective Edge has not officially ended, but the IDF's Technological and Logistics Directorate (known as Atal in Hebrew) has released a number of figures it collected throughout the month-long conflict.
Some of the numbers published reveal what many in the IDF already knew, and one senior officer echoed on Thursday: "It was basically a preview of what will happen in the next war with Lebanon, where we will have 80 Shuja'ias and a significant hit on the economy."
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The figures address the logistical side of the IDF's operations: amounts of equipment, ammunition, food supplies, transportation, costs of reservist duty, and the likes.
For example, the IDF provided its combat brigades with 4.8 million bullets, 43,000 artillery shells and 39,000 tank shells. Sources in Atal estimate that 60 percent of the supply was used, while the rest was returned to storage.
Armored vehicles – including tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and excavators – burned 11 million liters of diesel, nearly twice as much as during Operation Pillar of Defense.
Israeli Air Force vehicles consumed 50 million liters of jet fuel, also nearly twice as much as during Pillar of Defense.
Beyond the supplies already on hand for the combat units, Atal also provided an additional 1,474 weapons, 3,214 pieces of specialized equipment including night-vision goggles, 23,000 pairs of safety goggles, 35,000 beds and mattresses, and 4,000 meters of barbed wire to the soldiers.
The IDF did not use its newest tank carriers because the 1,000 Volvo trucks will only reach Israeli in May 2015. Half of the carriers used by the IDF during Protective Edge were more than 30 years old, with only 16 percent less than a decade old.
The military also used 1,073 buses and 1,147 taxi cabs to transport soldiers.
The logistical cost of the single day of fighting stood at 15 million shekels, not including spare parts, ammunition, and reservist duty pay – a total of NIS 420 million. The IDF believes that returning the supply stocks to their previous levels will take weeks and cost between 2-4 billion shekel, not including restocking the IAF.
Some 9,000 reservists were called up for Atal during the operation, including hundreds of truck drivers and drilling operators. Eight civilian dressing experts were drafted to help identify and destroy tunnel infrastructure in Gaza, which had last occurred in the 70s.
Combat soldiers were provided 580,000 combat-ready meals, 600,000 fresh meals, and 950,000 takeaway tray meals.
The soldiers consumed 1.1 million sandwiches for breakfast and 770,000 bottles of mineral water.
The IDF's Medical Corps said that 64 soldiers were killed and 714 were injured. For the first time in Israel's military history, the total number of fatalities was less than 10 percent of the number wounded – near the eight to nine percent goal set by the IDF in recent years.
In comparison, the same figure for the War of Independence in 1948 stood at 46 percent; 29 percent in the Yom Kippur War, and 15 percent and 14 percent for the two wars in Lebanon, respectively.
The figures represent a significant improvement in the capabilities of field medics treating severe wounds immediately after an incident.
Some 100 soldiers who participated in the operation are receiving mental care, though the total will increase during the six-month "medical window" after the end of hostilities.
The ground incursion offered an opportunity for deployment of the "Brother's Saver" project, which led to significant upgrades to emergency medical equipment supplied to every soldier. The kit included an advanced arterial tourniquet for self-use, protective goggles, and a special coagulant-coated bandage.
Each combat unit was also accompanied by a doctor or paramedic, who used dozens of blood plasma injections during the operation.
Hundreds of wounded soldiers were given pain-relieving candy – instead of morphine – which allowed caregivers to calmly treat the casualties.
Five of the 400 doctors and paramedics who operated in Gaza were injured, including the doctor for Golani's Egoz Reconnaissance Unit.
The Medical Corps emphasized that the M-113 armored personnel carriers – in which seven Golani soldiers were killed by anti-tank fire – saved more lives in their role as medical evacuation vehicles than were lost through their role as combat carriers.
The IDF said that even in the fiercest battles, like the explosion that severely wounded the Egoz Unit's commander, the field treatment and the evacuation to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva averaged 57 minutes.
The Israeli Air Force executed 120 sorties for evacuation, the majority in US-made Black Hawk helicopters and a few in Sikorsky Sea Stallions (for large-scale incidents).
Overall, 250 soldiers were evacuated by air, with 90 percent from the battles in the central and southern Strip.
"The use of protective goggles which we gave the combat soldiers over recent years led to a 50 percent decrease in ocular injuries, from 11 percent in the Second Lebanon War to 6 percent in Protective Edge," said a senior source in the Medical Corps.