Mideast War, Day 4: Now Comes Israel’s Ground War On Gaza
The Israeli army has secured its own territory, and is now focused on what all believe is an impending ground assault into Gaza. The ground war now appears more a question of when rather than if.
Updated on Oct. 10 at 6:15 p.m.
Four days after Hamas’ brazen and deadly assault, an Israeli military spokesman announced early Tuesday that all enemy troops had been either killed or pushed back over the border into Gaza. "Since last night we know that no one came in ... but infiltrations can still happen," military spokesman Richard Hecht said, adding that Israel's army had "more or less restored control" over the border.
With its own territory back in control, the Israeli army is now focused on what all believe is an impending ground assault into Gaza. At this point, following multiple declarations of the most senior Israeli officials, it appears more a question of when rather than if.
“Within 48 hours,” “TONIGHT…” The speculation online has begun about the precise timing of a ground assault, though officials from the Israeli Defense Forces will undoubtedly hold on to some element of surprise about exactly when, where and how such an operation.
Still, signs are everywhere that it is coming: The mobilization after Hamas’ attack Saturday of more than 300,000 reservists, some of whom are already joining the troops near the border of Gaza. Israel also said it had fully deployed 35 military battalions and four divisions and was “building an infrastructure for future operations,” according to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's televised speech on Monday to the nation made it all but clear that Israel was preparing for a ground assault. "This enemy wanted war and this this is what they will get," he said.
While the rationale for a ground war includes the goals of inflicting retribution on Hamas for the attack that has killed some 900 civilians, Israel would also be aiming to disarm the militant organization, track down its leadership and ultimately destroy them. French political analyst Pierre Haski asks: "Will Israel's objective be achieved? It depends on what is meant by the eradication of Hamas. After all, in the past Israel has been able to decapitate terrorist groups without being able to eradicate them."
Regardless of the ultimate objectives, a major ground offensive is bound to be slow, difficult and result in high casualties due to fighting in such a dense urban environment. Even if Israel’s military superiority would likely allow it to destroy portions of Hamas’ infrastructure, Hamas has developed combat tunnels over the years. While Israel once had a clear surveillance advantage over Gaza, cheap and readily available civilian drones acquired by Hamas will allow them to observe Israeli lines of approach.
The cost would be heavy for the Israeli military and Palestinian civilians and with risk to Israeli hostages being held in the territory. In an audio released through Hamas channels on the Telegram messaging platform, Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades said the group will execute a civilian hostage each time Israel bombs a Palestinian home without warning.
Israel prepares for ground invasion of Gaza
Egypt confirms border with Gaza closed over risk of Palestinian exodus
The Rafah crossing on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt has been closed according to Egyptian daily Mada Masr. An Israeli military official had suggested yesterday that Palastinians could flee to Egypt to avoid Israeli air strikes in Gaza, but has clarified today that the border is now closed. According to a witness and Egyptian officials at the Rafah crossing, the humanitarian corridor has been closed due to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza side that have affected its operations.
Egyptian sources have also told Reuters that they intend to act as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, pushing to prevent the conflict from escalating further. Egypt has insisted that Israel cease airstrikes on the Rafah crossing to allow the humanitarian corridor to reopen.
Israel's priority: "Defeating Hamas"
Tel Aviv-based daily Israel Hayom features the Israeli government’s priority in big red letters on its Tuesday front page: “Defeating Hamas”.
Siege of Gaza denounced by UN Commissioner for Human Rights
Volker Türk, the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that the impending siege of Gaza, announced by Israel on Monday, is “prohibited under international humanitarian law” amounting to collective punishment.
He argued that restrictions on the movement of vital goods such as food, water, electricity and medical supplies threatens to further exacerbate the near catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. “We know from bitter experience that vengeance is not the answer, and ultimately innocent civilians pay the price,” Türk added.
The commissioner also mentioned that taking civilian hostages also violates international law, and demanded that Hamas “immediately and unconditionally” release all Israeli hostages taken so far.
Meanwhile, airstrikes on both sides have resulted in at least 770 Palestinians killed and 4,000 wounded while 900 Israelis have been killed and nearly 2,400 injured.
EU backtracks on suspension of aid to Palestine
The European Union has announced that it will not terminate its 691 million euros in development aid to Palestine, reports French daily Le Monde, a reversal from Monday’s decision to put these funds under review out of fear that the money could be funneled towards Hamas. Ireland, Spain and Luxembourg led the dissent against the potential cuts, and the move had widely been condemned as a collective punishment against all Palastinians for the actions of Hamas.
A spokesman from Ireland’s foreign ministry argued on Monday that there was “no legal basis” for the EU commissioner to unilaterally make such a move, following the now canceled decision to place all EU aid contributions to Palestine under extensive review.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei hails “irreparable” Israeli defeat
Ayatollah Khamenei:— Iran Observer (@IranObserver0) October 10, 2023
On the 7th October, the usurping Israeli regime has suffered an irreparable defeat both militarily and in terms of intelligence. Everyone said failure, I emphasize irreparability. I say that this devastating earthquake has managed to destroy some of the main… pic.twitter.com/dOSr46sF60
In his first TV appearance since the weekend attacks, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the “irreparable" military and intelligence defeat inflicted on Israel. Wearing a Palestinian scarf during his speech, Khamenei added: "We kiss the hands of those who planned the attack on the Zionist regime."
One day after White House national security spokesperson John Kirby accused Iran of being “complicit” in Hamas' attacks on Israel (without offering evidence to support his claim), Khamenei used his speech to deny any direct involvement.
Limits in Israel of basic goods
Israel’s largest supermarket chain Shufersal announced that it is putting a limit on the purchase of basic goods, including water and eggs, as Israelis are continuing to stock up on food supplies.
Israeli shoppers going into Shufersal stores will be able to buy up to two six-packs of 1.5 liter water bottles, a rack of 30 eggs or two cartons of 12 eggs, three units of price-controlled milk, and two loaves of price-controlled bread,” according to the Times of Israel,
The move comes after the Home Front Command issued a recommendation to stock up on water, food, and other supplies to last at least three days. The notice prompted Israelis to quickly crowd supermarkets and empty their shelves.
Did Russia help Hamas?
A file photo in 2015 of Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and Khaled Mashal, then leader of the Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas.
Speculation has been growing that Russia may have been involved with the Hamas assault on Israel. Moscow has both the means and potentially motivation for triggering mayhem in the Middle East. Yet it also has good reasons to help keep the region calm.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, blamed "the West" for a history of blocking peace-making efforts and for the outbreak of renewed violence in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, some pro-Ukrainian accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed without any specific evidence that the Wagner Group mercenary organization may have trained the Hamas units that launched the attack. Wagner has no known presence in the Palestinian territories, while Hamas' assault units are highly experienced and trained with the assistance of outside powers like Iran.
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