The Israel-Hamas temporary ceasefire may not end today, but it will end. But when the war in Gaza resumes, the Israeli offensive against Hamas may be different.
PARIS — It's been six days since the war between Israel and Hamas was put on hold. And yet, no conditions have been met for this truce to become a formal ceasefire.
Indeed, there are no serious proposals on the table for a more lasting solution, and the truce has failed to address any issues beyond the release of hostages.
Thus the question we're facing is when the Israeli government will decide to resume its military operations in Gaza: tomorrow, when the two-day truce expires? Or after a new extension to allow the release of hostages, men included this time? The bosses of the CIA and Mossad are busy in Qatar trying to negotiate this point.
Israeli leaders remain fully war-minded, determined to continue the offensive against Hamas that began after October 7. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant even warned his troops that if they had rested during the truce, so had the men of Hamas. And he hinted that operations would resume for at least two months.
This prompts another question: will the war resume in the same form? The Defense Minister outlined to his troops a battle plan similar to that of recent weeks in the north of the Gaza Strip. He spoke of a massive arsenal of bombs dropped by the air force, then artillery barrages and tanks, and finally the arrival of bulldozers and infantry.
But the Jewish state is under pressure from the United States in particular not to repeat what has happened in recent weeks: thousands of civilian victims, especially children, cities in ruins, and an exodus of the population from North to South. In private, Western leaders believe that Israel has gone beyond exercising its right to defend itself after the Hamas attack on October 7.
Reproducing this strategy in the south, where the displaced are added to the population with no possibility of moving elsewhere, is a guarantee of yet more civilian casualties. The Americans do not want this, and are trying to convince the Israeli government and general staff to change their methods.
Scenes of some of the widespread destruction in Gaza
© Adel Al Hwajre/IMAGESLIVE via ZUMA
The United States is the only country with any influence over the Israeli leadership, if only through its muscular military deployment, which has undoubtedly prevented the conflict from spreading to the rest of the region. However, they are not the masters of Israeli strategy.
Israel also wants to re-establish a deterrent that was shattered on October 7
Israel's objective to destroy Hamas's military infrastructure and capture or kill all its leaders is supported by the United States. But Israel also wants to re-establish a deterrent that was shattered on October 7, and in its eyes, this means imposing a very high cost on the Palestinian population for the crimes committed by a terrorist movement.
Over the coming hours, the Israeli war cabinet will have to decide between several options: seek an extension of the truce to free more hostages; resume the all-out war at the risk of isolating Israel on the international stage; or change strategy and wage a targeted war, sparing civilians as far as possible.
The tension at the center of this choice is ultimately between the warlike posture of much of the country, and the cautious advice of its American ally.