Israel vs. Hamas: A new phase in the Gaza war

Most recently, for the first time, scores of fighters — thousands — who fought in Gaza were released home. This was made possible by a change in military tactics, Galant confirmed today: more targeted operations are now being carried out in the north of the Gaza Strip. In concrete terms, this is primarily commando operations, targeted airstrikes on Hamas positions and the destruction of tunnels – rather than a wider military presence with tanks and other heavy equipment. However, the Hamas leadership continues to be persecuted in the south.

At the same time, the military began to turn its attention to the threat posed by the North and pro-Iranian Hezbollah. The killing of senior Hamas politburo member Saleh al-Aruri on Tuesday in central Beirut, the Lebanese capital, was the first attack on Hamas officials outside Gaza and the West Bank.

Be diligent in hunting down those responsible

Although Israel has a long tradition of not officially acknowledging this, all signs point to the country's military and secret services being behind the killing of Aruri, who was buried in the Shatila refugee camp on Thursday.

After a Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people and kidnapped hundreds, the Israeli government announced that it would hold all those responsible for Hamas accountable. Like the attack on the Israeli team during the Olympic Games in Munich in September 1973, they could remain in Mossad's sights for decades.

First steps in resettlement of resettled people

The consequences for the general developments in the Middle East will be more immediate: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced a sharp reaction – but at least in Israel, the main assessment of experts is that Hezbollah wants to avoid increasing the current daily exchanges. is blowing It is clear that Hezbollah will attempt a surprise attack against Israel, on the border or elsewhere, sooner or later.

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An Israeli tank on the Lebanese border

Tens of thousands of Israelis living on the border have had to be deported for months for security reasons, a huge victory for Nasrallah. This is what Israel apparently wants to slowly change. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for “fundamental change” on Thursday.

Army Chief Herzei Halevi on Wednesday announced a comprehensive plan to secure towns near the border and a massive increase in military presence for at least a year. Border towns are within Hezbollah's firing range, and militants can often observe every movement of civilians with the naked eye. In a conversation with US mediator Amos Hochstein, Galant insisted that Israel wanted a diplomatic solution. Gallant, however, made it clear that he doubts such a deal will ever happen.

Israel sees itself as a bulwark against Iran

From Israel's perspective, it has become increasingly clear to Western allies the extent to which aggression against Israel is controlled by its arch-enemy, Iran. Tehran has also activated its allies Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iranian warnings or threats are always directed against the US and Israel. It is intended to place Israel's conflict with Hamas and the Palestinians as a whole in a broader context with greater understanding in Europe and the United States. Israel presents itself as a bulwark to the West and the Arab world against the Islamic threat.

ORF analysis from Beirut and Tel Aviv

ORF correspondent Karim El-Gawhari reports from Beirut and Tim Kapell from Tel Aviv. El-Kawahri talks about Hezbollah threatening retaliation after an attack in Lebanon, and Kubal talks about a further source of conflict for Israel.

“Far” from achieving the goal.

Chuck Freilich, Israel's former deputy defense adviser, insisted in a debate at the Israeli think tank Institute for National Security (INSS) that they were “far from” calling for the destruction of Hamas or the return of more than 130 hostages. are still in the hands of Hamas. Due to pressure from the US government, the military is now in the process of moving to “Phase Three”.

No “day after” strategy

At the same time, Israel's government has yet to agree on how it views the “day after” — after hostilities have largely ceased. The government has so far strongly rejected the option favored by the US with a reformed Palestinian Authority.

After weeks of reluctance and continued opposition from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Galant publicly opened the debate on “birthday” on Thursday evening. Israel would have no civilian presence in Gaza, and administration would be taken over by “Palestinian organizations” — though without saying whether he meant the Palestinian Authority. Galant was immediately criticized by right-wing extremist parts of the coalition, which demand a permanent occupation and settlements in Gaza, including the expulsion of the Palestinians.

Decision time is running out

Time is running out for Israel's government: Israel needs a coordinated plan with the US. However, it is difficult to imagine an agreement in coalition. It is also unthinkable that Netanyahu will overthrow two right-wing extremist parties. He now depends on them more than any other party in his long career.

US pressure will increase significantly in the next few weeks due to the upcoming election campaign there – US President Joe Biden does not want the Gaza war to become a major issue. It is no coincidence that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is returning to the talks on Friday. What is particularly dramatic is that all these circumstances make the chances of a deal to bring back the more than 130 hostages increasingly remote.

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