Israel launched the second phase of the war and end Hamas efforts to delay a land incursion by its psychological war efforts, dangling possible hostage releases. The IDF estimated that time was not in its favor and the greenlight was given to send the first forces in.
The IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari was careful to remain credible when he said land incursions were being extended. The aerial bombing campaign contributed to the fog of war not only by the destruction it caused but also in the communications blackout imposed on Gaza, stopping internet access and most cell phones.
The military plan is three pronged. It calls for a slow and careful movement of forces, according to the IDF. Some 100 aircraft destroyed 150 subterranean Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip, killing terrorists.
Past attempts at destroying the Hamas tunnel network in 2021, proved minimally effective so immediate reported results, while the real damage cannot yet be ascertained, must be taken with some hesitation but anyone who has covered the conflicts with Gaza agrees, the current scope of attacks have never been seen before.
The reporting from Gaza indicate complete chaos. Hundreds of buildings destroyed, and some 400 fatalities. According to the Hamas Health Ministry, which is not seen as a credible source, over 8,000 Palestinians have been killed thus far and hundreds more could be buried under the rubble. Some 1,000 terrorists were killed during their October 7 attack on Israel. Even if the officials in Gaza are inflating numbers, the Strip is certainly being subjected to a bombing blitz.
The aerial bombings are meant to prepare the ground for the IDF invasion. The early hours of the advance were encouraging to the war cabinet and led to the press conference held on Saturday evening held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz. Their message was that the war will could last months and requires steadfastness especially in light of the hostage situation, which is prominent on the minds of Israelis.
The families of those abducted to Gaza expressed their outrage that no one from the government agreed to meet with them and hear their concerns or provide desperately needed information, before a land incursion was underway. Netanyahu and the ministers claimed the offensive would increase chances of a hostage deal because of the additional pressure on Hamas, a sentiment repeated by the Chief of Staff. But there are others who say Hamas does not hold all of the hostages. Some may be held by other factions or even by random Gazans who infiltrated into Israel during the massacre.
This has not stopped Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar from saying Hamas was considering a swap of all hostages for all Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. In Israel, that message is seen as an effort to delay a ground offensive, no more.
While the IDF advances on the north of the Strip, Israel must keep a close watch on Rafah, Gaza's only lifeline, with Hamas tunnels reaching into Egypt that were used to supply the terror group with weapons the facilitated their murderous assault and may also have been a means of escape for some of its leadership. If Hamas leaders will not be captured or killed by Israel in its incursion, Israel will have to consider whether it would be able to claim a victory at the end of this war.
The IDF is considering the war to be waged on multiple fronts. There is an offensive on Gaza but also fighting on the Lebanon border and an ongoing confrontation on the West Bank. Yemen is also emerging as an additional threat. This requires preparation which is taking place in the Defense Ministry. General (Res.) Eyal Zamir who had alerted the government to the needs of the military, has now been overseeing the arrival of military aid. Some 80 planes have landed thus far with supplies from the United States and other nations.
This war teaches us about the valor of the men and women in the IDF and the inspiring conduct of civilians but also reminds us who Israel's true friends are in the world and who are not.