NewsIsrael holds back: Washington notes the development

Israel holds back: Washington notes the development

Smoke rises after Israeli shells strike the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
Smoke rises after Israeli shells strike the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

2:09 PM EDT, October 29, 2023

Israel seems to have postponed a full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip, choosing instead to carry out limited ground operations for the time being. This decision aligns with the suggestions made by the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, as per a "New York Times" article citing views of officials.

Sources from the "New York Times" assert that Israel's future actions remain uncertain. However, the recent escalation in airstrikes and ground operations suggests a more combative approach.

"Invasion" was not defined

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, revealed on Saturday that their troops had entered the Gaza Strip, marking the "second stage of the war." However, he did not categorize these operations as an invasion. The military stated that the forces were positioned in the northern part of the strip by Saturday evening.

According to sources from the "New York Times", the Israeli military's land operations in the Gaza Strip have, thus far, been executed on a smaller scale than what was originally discussed with Austin and other US delegates.

Pentagon underscores need for caution

In a phone call with Israel's Defense Minister, Yoav Galant, Austin stressed the importance of carefully contemplating the plan for land operations in the Gaza Strip, a region where Hamas militants have established an intricate tunnel network beneath densely populated residential zones.

After exchanges with the US, the Israelis refined their plans according to the newspaper's sources. They clarified, however, that the US authorities did not direct the Israelis and continue to support a land invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Several reasons have been cited for the delay in launching a full-scale operation, according to the "New York Times" sources. One of these is the concern that it might obstruct discussions regarding the release of hostages held by Hamas. Additionally, disagreements exist among Israel's military and political leaders about the appropriate method and timing for the invasion, and even about whether it should take place at all.

Israel advances its reconnaissance efforts

Current and former officials, along with veteran military commanders experienced in urban warfare, believe that Israel is adopting a phased operation approach. At present, smaller reconnaissance units are entering the Gaza Strip to identify Hamas fighters, engage them, and expose their vulnerabilities.

"After identifying weaknesses and gaps, they’ll deploy the main assault forces," says Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official for the Middle East and a retired CIA officer.

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