November 2, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli Forces Tighten Net Around Hamas in Gaza City

November 2, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israeli Forces Tighten Net Around Hamas in Gaza City

Latest Developments

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) encircled Gaza City on November 2, fighting Palestinian terrorists street-to-street as it closed in on the heart of Hamas operations. “We’re at the height of the battle. We’ve had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced as troops backed by tanks, armored bulldozers, and air force strikes moved in from eastern farmland, western coastal dunes, and a southern highway through the first lines of urban housing.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamist Jihad said their gunmen were attacking Israeli troops from hideouts. The IDF said around 130 terrorists had been killed. There was no immediate word of any IDF casualties in the daytime clashes, though 19 troops were previously listed as killed during the ground operations that were expanded on October 27.

Israel estimates that some 80 percent of Hamas government and military headquarters are centered in Gaza City, the Palestinian enclave’s de facto capital. For almost three weeks, Israel has called on civilians in the city and surrounding areas of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate southward. Some 700,000 have heeded the call, leaving between 200,000 and 300,000 behind, mostly in districts like Jabalia and Shati, where pro-Hamas sentiment is strong.

While it has signaled willingness to spend months or more on the war to destroy Hamas, Israel is cognizant of the domestic economic cost as well as foreign pressure over the mounting civilian toll.

Expert Analysis

“The Israeli counter-offensive is proceeding with impressive speed and efficiency. The first lines of Hamas defenses appear to have crumbled before the sheer size and ferocity of the initial ground assault. The question is whether Hamas is conserving some of its combat capabilities and waiting for Israeli troops to be more exposed amid the congested high buildings of central Gaza City, with an entire metropolis of terror tunnels under their feet. That the Israelis have yet to order the evacuation of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, despite having publicly flagged it as the building providing cover to a major part of the Hamas infrastructure, suggests that they are in no rush and will keep treading carefully.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Evidence demonstrates that the Israeli military has made substantial headway in its southern push. Both the Israeli military and terrorist groups in Gaza have released official communiques indicating that the fighting has extended to more southerly territories. While Hamas is militarily inferior to Israel, it will continue to leverage guerilla tactics in an attempt to slow down the IDF’s advances, especially when fighting begins in significant areas of operation such as Gaza City.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

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