The campaign in Gaza advanced over the weekend in two different vectors. The first is military on the ground, where the IDF is deepening its grip, and the second, political, in which it was made clear to Israel that international credit for the continuation of the war was about to run out.
On the military side, the IDF has recorded quite a few achievements. Although the public is exposed mainly to the names of those killed, the reality on the ground is different. In the northern Gaza Strip, large quantities of weapons were seized, shafts and another route of tunnels were exposed, and the main achievement was the filmed surrender of hundreds of Hamas operatives.
Nahal Brigade fighters fighting in the Jabaliya neighborhood, photo: IDF Spokesperson
IDF forces in Gaza. Control is an elusive concept, photo: IDF Spokesperson
It has not yet been clarified whether they are indeed combatants or civilians, but the photos have sparked a lively debate among experts about whether they are signs of breaking down among Hamas. It can be assumed that these incidents do indicate growing distress in the northern Gaza Strip, although it has not yet become a widespread phenomenon. Although the takeover of the area has already been completed, the IDF decided to continue its activity in the northern Gaza Strip, inter alia to facilitate any future military activity in the area.
At least three weeks to reach a decision in the southern Gaza Strip
The situation in the southern Gaza Strip is different. Although the IDF operates with a large divisional force in Khan Yunis, it has not yet succeeded in breaking the four Hamas battalions operating in the city. It is estimated that it will take three weeks, and perhaps more, with the main emphasis placed on an attempt to harm senior Hamas figures, headed by Yahya Sinwar and his brother Muhammad, who, according to all indications, operate from this sector.
Contrary to hopes, the intensification of military activity in the northern and southern Gaza Strip has so far not led to the resumption of negotiations for the release of the hostages. An effort to free one of the abductees in a special operation also failed early Friday morning, and it was later reported that the abductee Sahar Baruch was murdered by his captors. The IDF has made it clear that similar efforts will continue in the future, despite the complicated conditions for their success.
Biden along with other senior officials from the Gender Policy Council and the National Security Council, Photo: AP
Israel's main problem appears to be in the political arena. The United States vetoed a resolution in the Security Council on Friday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but Israel should be concerned that the other 13 countries voted in favor of the proposal (and Britain abstained). Various reports in Washington also indicate that the United States intends to allow Israel to continue fighting until the end of the new year, that is, three weeks from now, before demanding that it redeploy.
As a result, Israel may find itself in a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, the promise of the leadership to continue the fighting until Hamas is fully defeated and all the abductees are released; On the other hand, there is a lack of international legitimacy for such an action, and worse, the possibility of a direct confrontation with the Biden administration, which until now has been Israel's main political-security home front and its exclusive arms supplier.
The tension between the end of credit and internal audit
It is likely that Israel will seek to extend this period, inter alia while responding to US demands for humanitarian measures that will make things easier for civilians in Gaza. However, it must prepare in parallel with the possibility that the current phase of the operation will be shorter than planned, and will not currently include an operation in Rafah or the central camps.
Defense Minister Yoav Galant in the north. It is not certain that Israel will be able to complete all the declared goals, Photo: Ariel Hermony, Ministry of Defense
This means that Hamas will not be completely defeated, and assuming that not all the abductees are released by then, harsh internal criticism is expected that the declared war objectives have not been achieved. The government will have to maneuver in this tension in the coming weeks, against the background of which there is no apparent solution to the tension in the north and the growing need to take a series of measures to ease the economic crisis.
Wrong? We'll fix it! If you find a mistake in the article, please share with us