October 23, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

Gallant: Israel preparing Gaza op from air, land, and sea

IDF contends with threats from two fronts as anti-tank fire and drones increasingly a threat; Hezbollah announces two more deaths and the IDF strikes hundreds of targets in Gaza
October 23, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

Gallant: Israel preparing Gaza op from air, land, and sea

IDF contends with threats from two fronts as anti-tank fire and drones increasingly a threat; Hezbollah announces two more deaths and the IDF strikes hundreds of targets in Gaza

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel is “preparing thoroughly for the next step – a multilateral operation in the air, ground, and sea,” during a tour of the Ashdod Navy base. IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari also said on Monday that Hamas is confirmed to hold at least 222 hostages. Israel also intercepted drones that were flown from Lebanon and Gaza.  

Monday was one of the quietest days of the seventeen-day war, dubbed Operation Swords of Iron; with Hamas and Hezbollah threats growing in the late afternoon. In Gaza, Hamas announced that it had launched drones at Israel. The IDF said that “two UAVs were identified crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.” Both were “thwarted.”

The infiltration took place near Nir Oz and Ein Habesor. Many communities near the Gaza Strip have been evacuated of their residents. This includes the residents of 25 communities that are within several kilometers of the Gaza Strip and an additional 29 communities that are between 4 and 7 km. of the Gaza border.  

Hezbollah in Lebanon has been increasing attacks on Israel in the last weeks. On Monday the terrorist group also used a UAV to try to infiltrate into Israel from the sea. While Hezbollah has sent drones out to sea to threaten Israel in the past, and threaten energy installations off the coast, the incident on Monday was a rare occurrence during this round of conflict. The IDF said that the drone was intercepted by air defenses. Terrorists from Lebanon also targeted the Mount Dov area and Kiryat Shmona in the North. Israel evacuated Kiryat Shmona last week and most of the communities near the Lebanese border. As such, the threats generally occur in areas where civilians are not present.  

 The IDF continued to eliminate terrorist commanders in Gaza. The IDF said they struck five commanders including Muad Abu Murad, who was involved in some kind of air operations in Gaza; Muad Abdel Rahman, a terrorist involved in training; Othman Hamdan, an air “defense” terrorist; Muhad al-Rifi, who worked in terrorist logistics; and Essan Shalouf, who was also involved in training “air defenses” in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. In addition, a squad involved in launching surface-to-air missiles was taken out by the Air Force. Israel has conducted two weeks of air strikes in Gaza, using thousands of munitions to strike terror infrastructure and Hamas members and Hamas commanders.  

Gallant toured the naval base at Ashdod, met Naval commander V.-Adm. David Saar Salama and underlined the important role the navy will play in the next phase of the war.

“I have just patrolled our coast together with the men and women of the Israeli Navy. These are the people who fought the attack conducted by Hamas two weeks ago. They struck the terrorists and their boats, and then participated in the combat taking place on land,” he said. He completed his remarks by saying Israel is preparing the next step, which could be “a multilateral operation in the air, ground, and sea. Do your work, get ready. We will need you.”

Israeli soldiers are continuing to train and prepare for operations in Gaza. At a training facility in central Israel members of the Givati brigade were training in live fire to prepare for urban combat. The IDF said that “soldiers in mandatory and reserve service are conducting a variety of training exercises in order to improve the forces’ readiness and capabilities for ground operations in the Gaza Strip.” 

How to deter Hezbollah, encourage Israel to wait

As Israel prepares for the next phase, there are questions about the wider regional forces at work that could encourage Israel to wait and also deter Hezbollah from further attacks. The US is playing a key role on both issues while Iran continues to use proxies to threaten US forces. At the same time, Israel’s air force has worked to neutralize Hamas targets in Gaza. Overnight between Sunday and Monday 320 Hamas targets were struck.

“Following Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and IDF intelligence, the terror targets struck included tunnels containing Hamas terrorists, dozens of operational command centers, some of which concealed Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, military compounds, and observation posts,” the IDF said Monday morning. 

The IDF is increasingly forced to contend with anti-tank missile threats. These often involve Kornet or other types of missiles. The IDF said that it struck dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip that include mortar and anti-tank launch posts. This is an attempt to shape the battlefield and prepare the ground for further operations.

Gallant said this week that the operation in Gaza will take time, perhaps a month or two, but in the end, “there will be no Hamas.” 

Anti-tank missiles attacks from Gaza and Lebanon have killed two IDF soldiers in the last two days. According to Israel KAN Reshet B, an anti-tank missile targeted an IDF bulldozer and engineering team yesterday near Kissufim, killing Combat Engineering Corps Cpl. Tamir Barak of Nir Eliyahu. Alexandroni Brigade St.-Sgt. (res.) Omer Balva was killed on Friday by anti-tank fire from Lebanon.

Estimates now say that up to 30 Hezbollah members have been killed in Lebanon in numerous attempts to attack Israel. Hezbollah published the names and images of two more Hezbollah members yesterday who were killed. The number of Hamas rockets fired so far in the war is more than 7,000 and the IDF has targeted thousands of terror sites in Gaza, and dozens in Lebanon. There have also been numerous incidents of anti-tank fire, rockets, mortars, and small arms fire from Lebanon. Hamas-run Gaza officials claim that more than 5,000 have been killed in Gaza since the war began.  

Seth J. Frantzman, Ph.D., is the author of “Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machines, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future.” He has more than 15 years of experience covering conflict and security issues in the Middle East, as a correspondent and analystand is an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). 


Hezbollah Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Jihadism Military and Political Power Palestinian Politics