The Biden Effect: Israel responds to U.S. urging to limit scope of Gaza incursion, report

Officials say original operation plans broader than those carried out;

Gilad Meiri, Lior Ben-Ari|
A New York Times on late on Saturday, published a report quoting U.S. officials that said Israel’s decision on a limited incursion into the Gaza Strip aligns with advise given Defense Minister Gallant by his American counterpart Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin.
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Biden administration officials cautioned that predicting Israel's ultimate course of action was difficult, given the escalation in airstrikes and the broader scope of ground incursions over the past three days suggested a more assertive stance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference on Saturday, that the war was in its second stage after troops entered Gaza the night before. According to military officials, troops entered the northern portion of the enclave, taking a more modular approach to clear the peripheral neighborhoods from Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.
Echoing that sentiment, American officials said that the current incursions into Gaza by Israeli ground forces were comparatively smaller in scale and more targeted in nature than what the IDF had initially conveyed to Austin and other high-ranking members of the U.S. military.
They were initially genuinely alarmed by the early IDF invasion plans, noting the absence of attainable military goals and lack of military readiness. Austin consistently emphasized to Gallant, the importance of meticulously evaluating the manner in which forces could operate in light of the intricate network of tunnels maintained by Hamas beneath densely populated areas.
According to an anonymous U.S. official who disclosed war planning discussions between allies, the Israeli plan underwent significant improvement and refinement in discussions between American military officials and the Israelis despite repeated denials by Gallant and others, of external influence on operations plans.
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ביקור ג'ו ביידן בישראל
ביקור ג'ו ביידן בישראל
Biden and Netanyahu
(Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO)
The officials said other factors were also considered in the final plans, including the safety of the 330 confirmed hostages held in Gaza and negotiations that may be taking place to secure their release.
Both current and former Pentagon officials, along with former U.S. commanders experienced in urban military warfare, noted that Israel seemed to be executing a staged operation. This involved smaller reconnaissance units gradually entering Gaza to locate Hamas fighters, engage in clashes with the aim of gradually ascertaining their weak spots and vulnerabilities prior to committing to a more comprehensive attacking force.

The Egyptian angle

According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a pan-Arab news website headquartered in London, al-Sisi administration officials have made it abundantly clear to Israel that they are fiercely opposed to IDF forces, whether air or ground, attacking along the Philadelphi Corridor, a narrow strip of land, 8.7 miles long, situated along the border between Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula.
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking to the Egyptian parliament
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking to the Egyptian parliament
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, doesn't want a refugee wave coming into the Sinai
(Photo: AP)
The paper's report indicates the Egyptians are relying on a specific provision within the Camp David Accords, strictly forbidding Israel from doing so without discussing it with the al-Sisi government first. It seems Egypt is more than reticent about Israel's ground invasion to begin with, as they fear it will trigger a wave of refugees clamoring to enter Egypt, an issue they believe could negatively impact Egyptian national security.
On a separate issue, Egypt seems to have rejected Israeli apology regarding an erroneous shooting incident by Israel toward an Egyptian guard tower, as Egypt believes this constitutes a deliberate provocation rather than a careless mistake.
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