The Israeli army pressures Netanyahu to launch the ground invasion of Gaza | International

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The Israeli army's displeasure with Benjamin Netanyahu - transmitted through leaks to local media - for delaying the announced invasion of Gaza has reached the point of forcing them this Monday to issue an unusual joint denial. Diplomatic pressures, negotiations over hostages and the entry of humanitarian aid, and the risk of triggering a regional war have been postponing a ground operation that has been announced as imminent and military prepared for days. At the end of a day of information about the loss of patience in the Armed Forces, with Netanyahu's reluctance to give the definitive green light, he; His Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, and the military spokesperson have released a statement in which they claim to “work together in close cooperation, and tirelessly, in pursuit of Israel's total victory over Hamas.” Meanwhile, the army bombards Gaza from the air with increasing force and Hamas announces the release of two other hostages. The latter has been confirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“We attack all the time,” said military spokesman Daniel Hagari in an appearance before the press. According to data from the Ministry of Health of the Hamas Government, 436 people have died in the last 24 hours in the most forceful airstrikes in the Strip in decades. They are equivalent, in one day, to almost a third of all the Palestinian fatalities left by the offensive Molten lead (2008-2009) in three weeks already a fifth of those of Protective Shield (2014) in a month and a half. The total death toll in Gaza has exceeded 5,000 this Monday, of which about 2,000 are minors.

The Army has reported bombings on “320 military objectives,” including a tunnel with Hamas militiamen. The south of the Strip has been particularly hard hit. It is the area to which the Israeli Army ordered the evacuation of more than a million residents in the north. Some 700,000 have followed the instruction, according to United Nations estimates. The hundreds of thousands who have remained in the north “could be identified as accomplices of a terrorist organization,” as the Armed Forces have warned in the pamphlets they have sent to mobile phones in the area and dropped from the air in the capital.

The spokesperson has indicated that the entry of humanitarian aid to the south of Gaza from Egypt, which began last Saturday after days of negotiations, will allow both those already displaced and those who end up being displaced "to stay there" in the next phases of the war. ”. He has also revealed that the second humanitarian aid convoy (14 trucks with food, water and medicine, this Sunday) was inspected by Israeli military personnel, unlike the first. Israel and the United States have warned that they will prevent the entry of aid through the Rafah crossing - which does not include fuel and can only be distributed in the south - if any package "ends up in the hands of Hamas", the Islamist movement that governs the Stripe.

With a view to this next phase, clashes between troops and militants inside Gaza have already intensified. In the first days, the soldiers penetrated a little, especially to collect clues about the hostages (222, according to the figure updated this Monday). Lately, they carry out “deep” raids in which “they kill terrorist cells that are preparing for our next phase in the war,” the spokesperson said. That is, of militiamen stationed to repel the invasion. In a statement, the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezedin Al Qasam Brigades, claimed victory in one of those clashes: “Our fighters engaged the infiltrated force, destroying two bulldozers and a tank, and forcing the force to withdraw. ”. The raids and complete destruction of buildings near the border barrier suggest that the Israeli strategy is to clear the area of ​​both armed men and places where they can hide as snipers.

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The “next phase” has not yet arrived, but the current one expands the conflict more every day. The clashes on the Lebanese border, especially with Hezbollah, have grown in frequency and intensity to the point of displacing nearly 20,000 people in Lebanon, according to United Nations data. Israel has been evacuating tens of thousands of residents from the area to hotels for days. The Lebanese militia has now killed 27 people, including two cells that intended to launch anti-tank missiles and rockets.

According to the newspaper The New York Times, The United States is asking for more time to launch the invasion, which is in reality only the first phase of the Israeli plan to overthrow Hamas, stay for a few months to eliminate the strongholds of armed resistance and get rid of its civil administration without creating a vacuum of can.

The Government, and some American parliamentarians, are trying to buy as much time as possible before Israeli soldiers cross the Gaza border. “There are so many factors at play that rushing into this is probably not the most sensible thing to do,” Senator Jack Reed, chairman of the House Armed Forces Committee, told the newspaper. The New York Times from Cairo.

On the one hand, Washington wants to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza sooner and try to free at least part of the hostages, after the success achieved last week with the handover by Hamas of Judith and Nathalie Ranaan, an American mother and daughter. Abu Obeida, the spokesman for the military wing of the armed Islamist group, announced this Monday the release "for humanitarian reasons" of two others: the elderly Israeli women Nurit Yitzhak and Yochved Lifshitz. The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed this in a message on X (formerly Twitter). On the other hand, it aims to tie up all the possible “branches and sequences” – as it is known in military language – of the Israeli battle plan: where each step taken by the Israeli forces can lead and what will happen in the following days.

Washington has already detected an increase in drone attacks against its forces, from Syria to Iraq, and fears an escalation in the activity of radical Islamic groups sponsored by Tehran as the war between Israel and Hamas, from Hezbollah in the south, intensifies. from Lebanon against northern Israel to the Houthi rebels in Yemen or paramilitary forces in Iraq. And it is rapidly strengthening its military presence in the Middle East before the land campaign: this weekend it announced the sending and deployment of new anti-aircraft batteries of its Patriot and THAAD systems, the movement of its Eisenhower aircraft carrier to the Gulf and the transfer of the group amphibious ship led by the ship Bataan to the eastern Mediterranean, where the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford is already located.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned of the possibility of a “significant escalation of attacks” against US forces, citizens or interests in the region. “If any group or country considers expanding this conflict and taking advantage of this unfortunate situation… our advice is: don't do it,” he declared on Sunday on the ABC television program This Week. For his part, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also recognized the “probability of an escalation” of violence by pro-Iran groups in the region, and assured that the United States “takes all possible measures to ensure that we can defend” American and Israeli citizens.

In this context, the Israeli vice ambassador to the United States, Eliav Benjamin, wanted to mark the ground. “They understand that we conduct the war according to our own interests. In the end, we will do what we need to do when we need to do it,” he declared on military radio.

Precisely to dispel the hypothesis of direct interference from Washington, the spokesman for the White House National Security Council, John Kirby, pointed out this Monday, in conversation with foreign journalists: “The Israeli defense forces and their political leaders are the "They will make decisions about what they do, when they do it and how they do it." But he has also pointed out that both governments have been in constant contact since the beginning of the crisis. “Obviously, we want to understand as best we can the how, the objectives and the strategy that are proposed. And those conversations, of course, will continue,” he stressed.

Another important factor is the opinion of some military personnel who advise Netanyahu. They advocate continuing and increasing aerial bombardment before entering Gaza. Netanyahu also doubts because of the risk that the entry of troops into Gaza will lead Hezbollah to increase its involvement, until now more limited to maintaining tension on the northern border and forcing the evacuation of border towns.

Meanwhile, the prime minister's official account continues to be filled with photos with world leaders. It is time for the carousel of diplomatic visits, as happened in Ukraine after the first month of war. After the president of the United States, Joe Biden, and the prime ministers of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, and Italy, Giorgia Meloni, it was the turn this Monday of the head of the Dutch Government, Mark Rutte. This Tuesday the French president, Emmanuel Macron, will land.

Leaders usually combine in their messages solidarity with Israel in the face of the deadliest attack it has suffered in its 75-year history (1,400 dead, mainly civilians who were in their homes, streets or at a music festival) with reminders about the need to protect the civilian population in Gaza, which is being the main victim of the aerial bombardments. The army revealed this Monday that it has in its hands the bodies of more than a thousand Palestinians who infiltrated that day.

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