Is Israel ready for the nightmare waiting in Gaza?
Israeli troops backed by heavy armor and air assets launched two major incursions into Gaza on Thursday and Friday. The raiders targeted anti-tank missile positions and infrastructure Hamas will use in their defensive operations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that a ground invasion is coming but didn’t disclose any details about its timing. Thess large raids, targeting objectives Hamas can repair or redeploy fairly easily given enough time, suggests it could be imminent.
That said, keep in mind the political dimension. Netanyahu’s government promised to exert maximum pressure on Hamas, but nearly three weeks since the terrorist group’s massacre and kidnappings on Oct. 7, Israel’s intense air campaign has only yielded the release of four hostages. A major raid could buy time without risking high casualties and make a government already under pressure for its intelligence and security failures appear less unprepared.
But how can one prepare to take Gaza? Just ask veterans of Fallujah or Huế what urban combat is like, then add in 2.3 million civilians with nowhere to run and a network of underground tunnels the enemy has been gearing up to defend for years, and you’ll get a taste. There is no way to avoid intense, chaotic fighting and massive bloodshed.
What’s more, the international pressure on Israel is mounting. The United States, Israel’s most important ally in the region, is urging Netanyahu to delay while it moves air defense assets into the region in case Iran or its proxies expand the conflict. Washington is also leading efforts to persuade Egypt to allow foreign nationals trapped in Gaza to leave the territory via the Rafah crossing (see our map for more). Qatar, meanwhile, is negotiating a deal with Hamas to free the remaining hostages in exchange for a pause in bombing and permitting fuel to enter Gaza.
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