analysisIsrael at War

Israel’s war against Hamas likely to escalate 

IDF readies for a Gaza ground operation.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip, at a rally in Gaza City marking the movement's 35th anniversary, Dec. 14, 2022. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip, at a rally in Gaza City marking the movement's 35th anniversary, Dec. 14, 2022. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Israel Kasnett

As Israel’s government and military contend with the unfolding chaos, after Hamas terrorists murdered and wounded hundreds of civilians and took dozens hostage to Gaza, the big question is what comes next.

While the entire country is reeling from the ongoing attack and asking how Israel’s robust security apparatus managed to miss the warning signs and the terrorist infiltration itself, the IDF is amassing forces on the Gaza border. Hundreds of thousands of reservists have been called up and lines of tanks are on their way to the South.

At the same time, Israel is beefing up its military presence on the northern border where Hezbollah remains a serious threat. 

The goal of the war is to “topple the Hamas rule in Gaza now and restore Israeli deterrence,” Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan told JNS.

According to Dayan, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council and former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, “First, Israel’s territory must be cleansed of all terrorists, Gaza must be severely punished and the hostages released.”

He stressed that the expansion of the fighting to other arenas such as by Hezbollah from Lebanon “will be met with full force.”

Avi Melamed, an independent Middle East strategic intelligence analyst, told JNS Israel is “likely looking at a massive military incursion into Gaza, a severe escalation and intense fight.

“At the same time, we are keeping an eye on Lebanon, monitoring Hezbollah activity there,” he said. “Israel has been preparing for a multi-front scenario for a while and hopefully can handle two fronts simultaneously.

“We are looking at a very turbulent period,” he added. “If Hezbollah joins, the magnitude of the war will grow exponentially.”

As for recovering Israeli captives from Gaza, Melamed said the current priority is “preparation for a military move, and gathering intelligence which may help us understand the identity, condition and location of the hostages.”

IDF Armored Corps reservists have been called up to bolster the northern front. Credit: TPS.

The Biden administration’s ‘discredited agenda’

Some experts place much of the blame on American foreign policy, which has emphasized strengthening the Palestinians.

On Saturday, Victor Davis Hanson, a military historian and political commentator, wrote a post on X in which he blasted the Biden administration for contributing “both to the notion that Hamas was a legitimate Middle East player and to the perception that the U.S. was backing away from its traditional support for Israel—to the delight of Hamas … .”

He slammed U.S. President Joe Biden’s “inexplicable policies,” such as providing $1 billion in aid to the Palestinians even as they insist on continuing their “pay-for-slay” policy of encouraging terrorism and releasing $6 billion to Iran in a prison-swap deal.

“Millions of American dollars also went into Gaza, run by Hamas—despite the Biden administration’s efforts to keep mostly quiet the resumption of such inexplicable support,” he noted.

Hanson said there was “a general Hamas and Iranian perception that the Biden administration had resumed the discredited Obama madness of empowering Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.

“This discredited agenda was [intended] to ‘balance’ the power of Israel and the moderate Arab Gulf governments to achieve ‘creative tension,’ exacerbated by Biden’s loathing of the government of Benjamín Netanyahu (who has been snubbed by Biden and never invited for an official visit).”

Hanson also pointed out that the Biden administration “has siphoned off key weapons and munitions from stockpiles inside Israel to transfer them to Ukraine.”

The War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel (WRSA-I), was meant to help Israel in case of large-scale war, but it has been depleted over the last year and a half as it was sent to help Ukraine.

Looking forward, Hanson said to expect “the usual Hamas/terrorist selling and/or execution of Israeli hostages, the use of Israeli hostages as ‘human shields’ in Gaza, the bargaining/sale of the remains of Israeli dead, occasional killings of Jews inside Israel by Arabs who falsely believe there will be a winning Middle East-wide existential war against Israel. And finally, a devastating Israeli counter-response that will eventually earn a U.S. rebuke.”

Instead, he asserted, Washington should “quit talking to Iran and restore full sanctions against it.”

The United States should also “cut off all aid immediately to all the Palestinians,” Hanson said.

He called for the United States to mount a “1973-like massive arms lift of key munitions to Israel and warn Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and others in the Middle East not to intervene or else, given that Israel will need several weeks to deal with Hamas and Gaza.”

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