IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari says the military is making adjustments to its deployment in the Gaza Strip, as it anticipates a long war against the Hamas terror group, stretching throughout the entire coming year.
“We are adjusting the fighting methods to each area in Gaza, as well as the necessary forces to carry out the mission in the best way possible. Each area has different characteristics and different operational needs,” he says.
“Tonight, 2024 will begin. The goals of the war require lengthy fighting, and we are prepared accordingly,” Hagari says.
He says the military will be carrying out “smart” management of the forces in Gaza, allowing reservists to return home to help bounce back the economy, and letting standing army troops train to become commanders.
“We are continuing the training of officers and commanders… after their experience in combat, they are returning to training and will join the army’s line of commanders when they finish,” Hagari says.
Hagari says “some of the reservists will return to their families and work this week.”
“It will result in considerable relief for the economy, and will allow them to gain strength for operations next year, and the fighting will continue and we will need them,” he says.
“These adjustments are aimed at ensuring the planning and preparations for 2024. The IDF needs to plan ahead, out of the understanding that we will be needed for additional missions and continued fighting during the entire coming year,” Hagri says. [Continue reading…]
Israel does not mind too much if the rest of the world thinks it is willing to go overboard with overwhelming force. It survived the half-century since its 1973 war with its Arab neighbors by fostering the image of invincibility, an image shattered on Oct. 7. Israeli leaders want to reestablish the deterrence that was lost.
As for Mr. Biden’s team, the real debate is about the language to use and how hard to push, but no one inside is really pressing for a dramatic policy shift like suspending weapons supplies to Israel — if for no other reason than they understand the president is not willing to do so.
The administration’s message has four parts: Israel has a right to self-defense, Hamas must be removed as a threat, humanitarian aid needs to be increased and civilian casualties should be minimized. While some officials emphasize the latter points, the president in public has typically stressed the first ones.
Mr. Biden got on the phone with Mr. Netanyahu on Saturday, Dec. 23, to urge Israel to pivot away from intense military action toward a more targeted approach of raids against specific locations. But Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders continued to push back publicly. Two days later, Mr. Netanyahu published an opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal dismissing the notion that the Palestinian Authority could demilitarize Gaza as “a pipe dream.”
For Israeli officials, there is pressure to reassure their public that they are not backing off. But there are hints that Mr. Netanyahu could ultimately accept a role for a reformed Palestinian Authority in Gaza, recognizing there needs to be a Palestinian administration of sorts even as they hope to persuade Gulf Arab states to pay for reconstruction.
For all the disagreement, there is no serious discussion within the Biden administration about cutting Israel off or putting conditions on security aid. On Friday, three days after the Dermer meeting, the State Department agreed to send $147.5 million in 155-millimeter artillery shells and related equipment, invoking emergency rules to bypass congressional review a second time and again angering Democratic lawmakers. [Continue reading…]