Looks like Israel about to go on the offensive

In response to the October 7 terrorist campaign, Israel has executed the swiftest and largest mobilization in its history. Over 360,000 Israelis have been called up. El Al flights from JFK airport in New York to Ben Gurion International are jammed full, with IDF reservists rushing in to augment the widespread military call ups.

The Israeli Air Force has operated around the clock. Some are aiding Israeli special forces, others softening and preparing the battlefield for the coming offensive, others conducting surveillance missions. The IDF claimed yesterday that it struck 450 targets in a 24-hour period, and that it has struck nearly 2,500 individual targets since Hamas launched its battalion-sized attack four days ago.

Around two army corps (a formation consisting of two to four divisions) are massing on the Gaza border. This force will dwarf prior large-scale IDF incursions into Gaza. A sizable IDF contingent is moving north to meet the threat of Hezbollah, which exceeds Hamas both in numbers and in capabilities, and deter it from joining the fray.

Very soon, possibly as early as this evening, the invasion of Gaza will be initiated. Benjamin Netanyahu and former defense minister Benny Gantz have formed a unity government and will address the nation in a few hours. These remarks could ding the opening bell for the Israeli ground offensive, which must move quickly to deny Hamas time to entrench and fortify.

It is regrettable, but there will be civilian casualties during this offensive. Hamas cannot withstand the coming onslaught by military means. It will push as many of Gaza’s civilians as possible into harms way. Hamas will continue its decades-old tactic of positioning fighters and military equipment inside mosques, schools, refugee camps, and hospitals to invite Israeli attack.

Hamas has already commanded that Gazans ignore Israel’s warning to evacuate to safe points to avoid the coming violence. Gazans are Hamas’s bullets in this war. It will continue its long strategy of committing violence against Israel’s civilian population, then swiftly pivoting to present itself as the meek victim of a powerful aggressor state. As such, it should be assumed that any target that presents as a protected facility (holy sites, schools, medical facilities, refugee sites) has been purposefully militarized by Hamas. Under international laws and treaty that govern conflict, all legal protections are forfeited when these sites host combatants and arms. Hamas exploits the international community’s ignorance of these laws.

For now, Israel’s northern front is quiet. There have been some exchanges of violence, but they have been limited in scope. The IDF appears ready to execute a swift campaign into Lebanon and Syria should further attacks come along its northern axis.

It is unclear if Israel will strike Iran proper for its role, direct or indirect, in these attacks. Jerusalem’s blood is rightfully elevated, and all options should be considered possibilities. While we are beginning to understand the size and scope of Israel’s looming retaliation into Gaza, it is also unclear what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s final military objectives will be. This could include a recapture of Gaza and restoration of Israeli control over the territory, or the objectives could be limited to dismantling Hamas as a functional entity.

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