Written by Jack Elbaum
What’s happening: Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip have expanded over the past few days, signaling that Israel’s war with Hamas has entered a “new phase.”
The strategy: Israel is likely planning to surround Northern Gaza, relying on siege tactics rather than launching a wholesale invasion, to starve Hamas of fuel, food, and water over a period of months or up to a year.
- The upside: A siege would avoid the dangers of near-impossible close-quarters urban combat that Hamas has prepared for and limit the expected number of IDF casualties. A significant number of reservists may also be released back into civilian life, lifting an economic burden.
- The goal: To destroy Hamas’s military capabilities and remove them from political power. Rescuing the almost 240 hostages seems to be a secondary priority.
Civilians: Two-thirds of the 1.1 million civilians in Northern Gaza have moved south in accordance with Israel’s evacuation order. This still leaves hundreds of thousands of civilians in what will become the sieged area.
- Why? Some ****have not left Northern Gaza for one of two reasons. Either to do so would conjure memories of the First Arab-Israeli War of 1948 when 750,000 Palestinians became refugees, or Hamas has prevented their leaving by putting up roadblocks and discrediting the evacuation orders as “propaganda.”
- Important: The New York Times reported that Hamas — the governing body of Gaza — has a large stockpile of food, water, and fuel that it is refusing to provide to its people.
Why it matters: The fighting that has taken place since October 7 is only the beginning. While concerns over a second front with Lebanon have partially subsided, it appears Israel will have a difficult, prolonged war on its hands that will also take a toll on Gazan civilians.