February 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Evacuated Israelis May Return to Homes Near Gaza

February 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Evacuated Israelis May Return to Homes Near Gaza

Latest Developments

The Israeli government authorized residents of evacuated Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip to return to their homes on February 22. The advisory reflects the success of the Gaza offensive in degrading the rocket and armed incursion capabilities of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.

The Israeli military said that communities located at least two miles away from the Gaza border no longer face a security threat that warrants residents staying away. The military issued a similar advisory for 18 communities within two miles of the border while noting the continuing risk of short-range mortar attacks.

After the cross-border Hamas rampage of October 7, Israel evacuated 133,000 residents of the Gaza “envelope.” Evacuees have mostly been accommodated in hotels or temporary apartments in the center of the country. Their return is predicated not only on the military’s approval but also on factors such as the reconstruction of ravaged buildings and the reconstitution of public services.

In a further signal of Israel’s internal stabilization almost five months into the Gaza war, the military announced that, as of February 29, it would disband most of the municipal security squads it had set up as a first response to any terrorist threat. The squads would remain active, however, in communities around Jerusalem and along the West Bank boundary, the military said. The squads are made up of local veterans, mobilized as reservists for patrol duties under emergency call-up orders.

Expert Analysis

“Hamas went to war with a surprise rocket saturation of southern Israel that provided cover for the infiltration of thousands of its murderers and kidnappers. Israel took the war to Hamas by destroying much of the Palestinian terrorist group’s arsenal and, according to preliminary media reports, laying the groundwork for a buffer zone along the Gaza border. But that is just one stage of Israel’s response. Hamas’s destruction, and the recovery of all hostages from Gaza, must still be achieved. And finally, Israelis will return to their civilian communities near the border, unafraid.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The security squads assigned to cities, towns, and villages throughout Israel were meant mainly to head off any repeat of the Arab rioting that accompanied the last Gaza war in 2021. But Israel’s Arab minority has either sat out this war or worked to show kinship with the Jewish majority in the face of the Hamas horror show unleased on October 7. It is possible that the swift mobilization of internal security measures went a long way toward discouraging troublemakers who might otherwise have sought to tear up Israel’s internal fabric when it was under most stress from outside hostilities.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

As Israel’s southern Sderot evacuees return, questions remain over Gaza border future,” by Seth J. Frantzman

Hezbollah Threats Prevent Israeli Return to Northern Border Communities, FDD Flash Brief

120,000 Israelis Evacuated Amid Hamas, Hezbollah Threats to Israel,” FDD Flash Brief


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