The Israel Defense Force is using the current pause in operations, in place since Nov. 24, to enhance readiness, learn from recent battle experiences and develop future operational plans. This preparatory phase is seen as crucial for the success of ongoing and future missions, and contains clues as to how the IDF will return to war when it receives the order to do so from the war cabinet.
On Monday, the IDF Southern Command took advantage of the tactical pause to conduct an operational forum focused on lessons learned so far in the war. Led by the Commanding Officer of Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, it was attended by the division and brigade commanders involved in the ground operations in Gaza. The figures key to prosecuting the next stages of the war were all there: the Head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk; the Commanding Officer of the Ground Forces, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai; and the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar.
To date, the main lessons learned from the fighting were presented during the course of the day, and a discussion was conducted regarding operational plans for the continuation of the fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The commanders focused on combat techniques, operational discipline, IDF soldiers’ operations and insights into enemy activity.
A session to learn lessons on fire operations was also held in conjunction with Israeli Air Force squadron commanders since this war has seen unprecedented levels of air and ground cooperation, as well as close air support.
In comments made on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant outlined the way in which the IDF would return to the fighting at the end of the operational pause.
Addressing Givati soldiers and members of the Armored Corps who had been fighting in Gaza and were on break in a special compound set up for them, Gallant said: “You now have a few days; we will return to fighting, we will use the same force and more. That is the task now. Remember that while you are organizing and resting and investigating, the enemy is doing the same thing. You will meet something that is a bit more prepared. Therefore, they will first meet the bombs of the Air Force, then the shells of the tanks and artillery and the blades of the D9, and in the end, also the fire of the infantry soldiers, we will fight across the entire Strip.”
Gallant made it clear that the war objective of dismantling the Hamas terror army in Gaza has not shifted one iota. “Everywhere I go, I hear: ‘Let us complete the mission, go all the way.’ I want you to know that the Israel Defense Forces, the security system, the Government of Israel, all the people of Israel, and certainly, I personally, stand 100% behind you until you complete the missions. We do not stop until we are finished,” he stated.
‘Prepare for the next stages’
Last week, the IDF indicated that it will be fully prepared to resume combat when the order comes in.
“We will know how to deal with any decision and know how to prepare in such a way that will preserve our operational status, our operational achievements and also how to protect the framework [for a hostage release],” IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Nov. 22, two days before the pause began.
“This is a long war that will have many stages, and this framework will apparently also have stages,” said Hagari. “To meet our war objectives, we will know how to preserve our operational achievements and to prepare for the next stages in the war.”
According to Professor Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS), as well as a senior consultant to the IDF and other Israeli security organizations, restarting the offensive after the truce is fully within Israel’s abilities.
Speaking to JNS last week, he said: “War always starts before there is fighting, and so will it again. Plans will be made and orders will be given. There is no change in the mission. The main goal will not change—the full destruction of Hamas.”
Siboni added that Israel will seek to kill every known Hamas terrorist.