October 28, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

The road to the ground war in Gaza – analysis

Israel postponed ground operations the first and second week of the war.
October 28, 2023 | The Jerusalem Post

The road to the ground war in Gaza – analysis

Israel postponed ground operations the first and second week of the war.

As Israel carried out a large round of airstrikes in Gaza on Friday night, with the foreign minister of the Kingdom of Jordan accusing Israel of starting a “ground war on Gaza,” there will be many questions about how Israel has conducted the campaign so far. The war that Israel has been fighting in Gaza is different than previous wars, but it also has some commonalities with the past. 

Here is what we know. Friday night has seen a plethora of reports of increased fighting in Gaza. This has included Palestinian reports of clashes with Israeli tanks and forces near Bureij, Jabaliyeh and Beit Hanoun. As with all war, and particularly when forces move at night, these details are hard to confirm. However, those along the border say the level of airstrikes was very large on October 27. 

How did Israel get here? On October 7, Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel, killing 1,400 people. It took most of October 7 to understand how massive the attack was. Hamas had attacked at 29 points on the border. They attacked many of the 20 kibbutzim and communities along the border. Some were subjected to brutal terrorist acts, such as Beeri, Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz and others.

In some cases such as at Nir Am, Erez and elsewhere, the local security was able to stop the terrorists. It took more than 24 hours to rescue some of the Israelis stuck in their safe rooms. Israel was in shock. 

Reservists were called up

By the second day Israel was calling up 300,000 reservists. Many bases were crowded with cars. Many units saw a huge outpouring of people running to join. Israel has termed this a “war for our house,” and the Defense Minister reiterated these feelings on Thursday, October 26. He termed this a war that will define the next 75 years. He said it is either us or them, meaning Hamas must be defeated.

Hamas also kidnapped 224 people held hostage in Gaza, and has only released 4 people. Israel is still trying to identify kidnapped and missing people and the bodies of the fallen. More than 300 soldiers were killed in the first days of fighting. This was unprecedented in Israel’s history, worse in terms of a daily death toll than 1973, worse than 1948. 

After the initial shock, Israel did not go on the offensive. Instead, in contrast to its “Momentum” plan that was supposed to result in fast and efficient manuevering, Israel chose an air war to subdue Hamas. This is how Israel has conducted wars since 2014.

In 2015, fifty days of fighting targeted tunnels that Hamas was using. Israel’s last major war in Gaza was in 2021 when ten days of fighting saw Hamas and other terror groups fire 4,000 rockets and Israel also destroyed 100km of the genocidal terrorist group’s underground “metro” in Gaza, the tunnel system Hamas uses.

However, Hamas has apparently repaired this and is able to continue to target central Israel 21 days after the fighting began on October 7. 

Israel postponed ground operations during the first and second week of the war. Many world leaders came to Israel. Very limited supplies have entered Gaza. Israel has rallied support by showing the images from cameras found on the bodies of Hamas fighters. However, many Hamas members went back to Gaza on October 7 and went underground, hiding.  

Although 2,900 people entered Israel in three waves of attacks on October 7, some of them were not Hamas hardened terrorists. It is believes around 1,000 of them were killed. However, the Hamas commandos were able to get back to Gaza in many cases, bringing hostages with them.  

Israel has been targeting terrorist infrastructure in the three weeks of war. It has called on Gazans to leave northern Gaza. It has also highlighted how Hamas uses human shields, including operating a command post from under a hospital.  

Israel carried out numerous airstrikes to hit key parts of the Hamas terror command and control apparatus and to destroy certain units. For instance, the elite Israeli naval commandos targeted a Hamas naval commando center and surface-to-air missiles.

Israel also used two raids by tanks and troops on October 25 and 26 to target sites in Gaza. The Givati brigade participated in one of these assaults. Units of Golani are also poised to participate.  

Who was neutralized in Gaza? IDF fighter jets struck three senior Hamas operatives in its Daraj Tuffah Battalion this week. “IDF soldiers of Shayetet 13 conducted a targeted raid from the sea in the southern Gaza Strip. During the activity, the soldiers struck Hamas military infrastructure and operated in a compound used by Hamas’ commando naval forces.” 

In addition, the IDF struck the following Hamas members during the past week: the deputy head of Hamas’s Intelligence Directorate, who was responsible for planning the October 7 massacre together with Yahya Sinwar; the commander of Hamas’s Northern Khan Yunis rockets array, Hassan Al-Abdullah; the commander of the North Khan Yunis Battalion of the Hamas terrorist organization, Taysir Mubasher; the deputy commander of the Nuseirat Battalion, who took part in the Kibbutz Be’eri massacre; the deputy commanders of the Shati and  Sheikh Radwan battalions; and the head of the anti-tank missiles array of Hamas’s Northern Brigade, Ibrahim Alkhaser – as well as the commander of the Hamas aerial array in Gaza City, the head of Hamas training portfolio in Gaza City, the aerial defense officer of Hamas’ Zabra Tel Elhua Battalion, a Hamas weapons supply manager in Gaza City, the head of training for the Hamas aerial defense array in northern Gaza, and the deputy head of Hamas’s artillery array in the Gaza Strip.

These are the attacks the IDF has revealed. Clearly these are key figures in the Hamas network of commanders and units. This was the prelude to the escalation on Friday, October 27.

To review, it involved three weeks of airstrikes, including thousands of munitions used against thousands of targets. It involved two large raids by armored vehicles from Israel in north and central Gaza, as well as a naval commando raid.

Israel also repaired the security fence and conducted training for units such as Givati and Golani. The air war has commonalities with 2014, 2012, and other conflicts. It also has commonalties with various operations such as Guardian of the Walls, Black Belt, and Shield and Arrow. Any ground operation however may be different because Hamas has grown stronger and Israel has set different goals.  


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