October 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Launches Second Stage of War Against Hamas 

October 28, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Launches Second Stage of War Against Hamas 

Latest Developments​

Israel entered what it described as the second stage of the war against Hamas over the weekend, expanding ground operations and shelling in order to ratchet up pressure on the Iran-backed terrorist group.

“We have stabilized our defensive line,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said in televised remarks on October 28, adding that the Israeli forces had killed hundreds of Hamas terrorists in the fresh fighting. There was no immediate statement about Israeli losses.

In a televised briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces were “at the portal of the bastion of evil” — a signal that they were closing on Gaza City.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz echoed Netanyahu’s remarks, describing the conflict — now entering its fourth week — as “second war of independence.” “It will not be a short war, it will be a long war,” Gallant said.

Expert Analysis

“The sweeping statements from Israeli leaders about the existential quality of this fight need to be carefully parsed. What Netanyahu means in invoking ‘Never Again’ is to acknowledge that, on October 7, Israel failed in its founding pledge of providing Jews with security from anti-Semitic mass murder. What is meant by Israeli leaders describing this as a ‘second war of independence’ is that Israel must, by defeating Hamas, reassert itself in the Middle East and bolster its borders to prevent any repeat of the atrocities.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The Israelis spent three weeks preparing for this, with smaller-scale strikes designed to remove immediate threats to ground forces as well as some of the Palestinian capabilities to carry out cross-border rocket attacks. The time also allowed Israel to array its forces, especially the hundreds of thousands of military reservists who were called up and required refresher training. Now Israel feels ready to implement its declared war aims more fully,” Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal 

Preparations for Ground Offensive

After a week in which armor and infantry conducted initial probing incursions across the Gaza Strip border to attack Hamas ambush positions and clear access paths, Israeli forces signaled further escalation on the evening of October 27, with waves of intensified air strikes and a shutdown of telecommunications in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Israeli officials said much of the shelling was designed to penetrate Hamas’s subterranean tunnel and bunker network in Gaza City, as well as to provide cover for the large-scale entry of ground forces. Unlike official statements made during previous incursions since October 7, the military made no mention of these forces leaving Palestinian territory — a signal that they are setting up advance positions from which to press the fight against Hamas.

Hamas Calls for Release of Terrorists in Israeli Jails

Israel has rebuffed foreign calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, saying this would serve to benefit Hamas and that aid was available in designated zones in the southern Gaza Strip.

Separately, Israel raised to 230 the number of people confirmed held hostage in Gaza and said the escalated offensive would advance efforts to retrieve them. In his briefing, Netanyahu declined to elaborate on this. Hamas, for its part, offered to free the hostages if Israel released all of the thousands of Palestinian terrorists held in its jails.

Hamas Uses Hospital as Terror Command Center, Israel Says,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Launches Tank Raid Into Gaza to Target Terrorist Sites,” FDD Flash Brief

From Air and Ground, Israel Edges Into Gaza Ahead of Offensive,” FDD Flash Brief


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