April 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Mobilizes Reservists Ahead of Rafah Push 

April 24, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Mobilizes Reservists Ahead of Rafah Push 

Latest Developments

Israel is redeploying two reservist ground forces brigades on April 24 for operations in the Gaza Strip, signaling its readiness to move against the Hamas stronghold of Rafah in southern Gaza. Israel reassigned the 679th “Yiftah” Armored Brigade and the 2nd “Carmeli” Infantry Brigade from their previous roles operating along the Lebanese and Syrian border. In Gaza, they will conduct “defensive and tactical missions,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said without elaborating. Military sources told The Times of Israel that the two brigades will replace the 933rd “Nahal” Infantry Brigade in central Gaza, freeing up that brigade to join the rest of the 162nd Division to prepare for a future operations, including the offensive in Rafah.  

The move came as media carried reports that a sweep of Rafah — the only Gaza city untouched by Israeli ground forces during their more than half-year offensive against Hamas — could be imminent. A tent city going up in neighboring Khan Younis appears to be part of Israel’s preparations to rehouse Palestinian civilians slated for evacuation from Rafah before troops and tanks go in. “Hamas was hit hard in the northern sector [of Gaza]. It was also hit hard in the center of the Strip. And soon it will be hit hard in Rafah, too,” Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen, commander of the IDF’s 162nd Division, told Kan television.   

Expert Analysis

“After weeks of delay due to public handwringing by the Biden administration, the Israelis are making clear that they are serious about wrapping up this war as its victors. There is no alternative to taking Rafah if Hamas is to be soundly defeated and at least some of the hostages it is still holding recovered. Now is the time for the United States to close ranks with its ally and to press Egypt — whose territory is just a stone’s throw from Rafah — to do the same.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“The sooner Israel pacifies Rafah, the sooner it can declare the bulk of Gaza operations completed and, de facto, scale down the war to a series of counterterrorism missions akin to what it has long been doing in the West Bank. That, in turn, could allow for calming of the Lebanese border. Hezbollah has claimed that its hostilities against Israel were in solidarity with Hamas’s hostilities against Israel. A mid-summer ceasefire in Lebanon may give Israel enough time to bring back its evacuated border communities ahead of the new school year.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Rafah Operation Aims to Eliminate Last Four Hamas Battalions 

According to several media reports, the evacuation of the more than 1 million civilians in Rafah is expected to take two to three weeks. The follow-on operation, which Israel expects to last approximately six weeks, was decided upon by Israel after Hamas stonewalled the most recent round of Qatari- and Egyptian-mediated talks on a possible release of hostages. Evacuating civilians from Rafah would clear the way for an assault to crush the four Hamas combat battalions in the city, which Israel believes have been reinforced by thousands of members of the terrorist group who fled there from other parts of Gaza.   

Between Iran and Rafah, IDF considers next steps,” by Seth Frantzman

Victory Requires Entering Rafah,’ Netanyahu Says,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas’s Casualty Numbers Games,” by David Adesnik


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