Keys: What is happening and what does Israel intend to do in Gaza? | International

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The 2.3 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are still waiting for the start of a ground invasion announced by the Israeli army and which was considered imminent already this weekend, after on Friday Israel ordered the population of the north of the Palestinian enclave that moved south. The UN has confirmed that at least 600,000 Palestinians, out of a population of 1.1 million in the northern Gaza region, have already left their homes to seek refuge and escape a ground invasion that is being preceded by intense aerial bombardment since, On October 7, the fundamentalist group Hamas will attack Israeli territory, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping 199. Meanwhile, the only border crossing that Israel does not control, Rafah, which connects the territory with Egypt, remains closed to people and humanitarian aid. More than 2,800 Gazans have died in the bombings, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

What is happening in Gaza?

On Friday, Israel ordered all residents of northern Gaza – around 1.1 million out of a total of 2.3 million people – to move south of the Wadi Gaza River, in the face of an imminent military operation “on the ground.” , sea and air,” according to an army spokesperson. At least 600,000 Palestinians have since abandoned their homes in the northern part of the enclave, according to the UN, which has defined this mass evacuation as “impossible.” Hamas, for its part, has urged residents to stay in their homes.

Since this group, considered terrorist by the EU and the US, attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 Israelis and kidnapping 199, the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu has kept Gaza surrounded. The blockade of this territory, of about 360 square kilometers, includes the supply of water, electricity, food and fuel.

The siege, the mass displacement order and the more than 6,000 bombs dropped by Israel since the day of the Hamas attack have turned Gaza into a trap. The two main border crossings in the Strip – Erez, under Israeli control, and Rafah, managed by Egypt – are closed to people and humanitarian aid. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are taking refuge in the 92 UN schools in Gaza and in hospitals that are about to run out of fuel that powers the generators that allow them to have electricity and keep incubators and artificial respirators running. At least 2,800 Palestinians have been killed in the bombings.

What does Israel intend to do in Gaza?

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Israel has announced its intention to eliminate Hamas with an operation “by land, sea and air.” To do this, it has moved a large number of troops to the borders of Gaza. In addition to its regular army, which is estimated at 160,000 troops, the Israeli Government has mobilized 300,000 reservists - the Spanish army has around 125,000 active military personnel and around 14,000 in the reserve.

Israel is massively bombing the Strip, especially the periphery of Gaza City, in what is interpreted as an attempt to pave the way for the entry of its troops. The images show entire streets destroyed. The order for the population to move south indicates that the Israeli army has no intention of occupying all of Gaza. Nor does anything indicate that Israel intends to keep that territory, which it unilaterally abandoned in 2005, under its control indefinitely, a new occupation that would be costly in economic, political, diplomatic terms and in Israeli lives. Gideon Saar, a minister without portfolio of the Government of national unity formed on October 11, has already announced that, when the war ends, Gaza "will be smaller", alluding to the establishment of a security zone between the Palestinian enclave and Israel to avoid attacks like the one on October 7.

What are the difficulties of the land invasion?

A ground operation in Gaza seems very complicated. As demonstrated in cities like Aleppo (Syria), an urban war scenario allows an initially weaker rival – such as the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezedin al Qassam brigades – to defend itself in the short and medium term, even against a very powerful conventional army like the Israeli one.

The abundance of hiding places and parapets, which allow snipers to be stationed and surprise attacks to be carried out; the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare on streets and buildings—or their rubble; The greater knowledge of the terrain and the 500-kilometer network of underground tunnels under Hamas control make Israel aware that this ground operation will likely entail a large number of casualties in its ranks as well. The use of weapons such as heavy artillery, which were not conceived for urban environments densely populated by civilians, raises another red line that Israel is already crossing, according to human rights NGOs: the violation of international humanitarian law that prevents attacking civilians. .

Hamas militants have high morale after their unexpected success on October 7. One of the central aspects of its ideology is also the cult of martyrdom; They have carried out various suicide attacks in the past. An adversary without fear of dying is much more dangerous.

What chances does Israel have of ending Hamas?

Israel has already announced the deaths of some Hamas military commanders in the bombings in Gaza. However, ending the organization's leadership and its dominance over the territory is a complicated task. Israel has not shown signs of wanting to occupy the entire Strip, so it is foreseeable that the group's leaders will take refuge in the south of the country, where the Israeli army has ordered the civilian population to settle. Although much smaller than in the past, the organization also continues to have popular support in Gaza and also in the West Bank. In May, the Islamic Bloc, the student organization of Hamas, swept the elections to the student councils of the main West Bank universities, today the only democratic institution in Palestine. The group also has foreign support and financing—from Qatar and Iran—and it cannot be ruled out that it will rebuild its leadership if its current members are assassinated by Israel.

What did Hamas intend with its attack?

With its offensive, the success of which surprised its own leaders, Hamas probably intended not only to deal a severe blow to the security of the Israeli state and the confidence in it of its own citizens, but also to present itself to Palestinian public opinion as the dominant political actor. ; in contrast to a discredited Palestinian National Authority—which governs the West Bank—and which appears helpless in the face of an Israeli occupation tolerated by the international community. The aggressive policy of expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank promoted by the Israeli Government of Benjamin Netanyahu largely explains why this year has been the deadliest in history for Palestinians living in that territory occupied by Israel. In September, the NGO Save the Children raised the number of minors killed at the hands of Israeli forces so far this year to 38, the worst number recorded until then.

Numerous analysts have speculated about the possibility that Hamas, one of whose allies and financiers is Iran, also intended, with this attack, to send a message to Saudi Arabia to slow down or put an end to the establishment of relations between the great power. Sunni with Israel, which was almost taken for granted. The capture of hostages to exchange them for the approximately 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons has been another of their motivations, the militia stated Monday night. Among them, there are several hundred in administrative detention without charge or trial and, of them, around 200 are minors. The issue of prisoners is one of the most sensitive for Palestinian society.

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