Tue 31 Oct 2023 7:50 am - Jerusalem Time
All fronts are approaching the boiling point
Author Amos Harel
The Israeli army is significantly expanding the size of its forces and the area of territory in which it operates in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian resistance was limited in terms of shooting, but it is clear that the more the operation expanded, the more the military clash between the two sides increased. At the same time, it is likely that attempts will soon be made to reach a deal to exchange kidnapped persons, when Hamas feels increasing military pressure on it.
From Lebanon, Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations are intensifying their attacks and, for the first time, have begun firing rockets towards civilians in settlements a little further away.
Israel continues to maintain secrecy about the nature of the operation in the Strip, except for general statements regarding its expansion, and that it will take a long time. Home Front Commander Avi Miloa said that the fighting could continue for months, and there would be a need to conduct a "contingency routine" on the Home Front. Yesterday witnessed several clashes with Hamas members, during which dozens of “terrorists” were killed, according to Israeli estimates. An Israeli force killed gunmen who emerged from one of the tunnels at the Erez crossing inside the Gaza Strip. The army spokesman spoke about the injury of some Israeli soldiers.
The Air Force continues to use unprecedented force to defend forces operating on the ground. A noticeable improvement was recorded in the Internet and cell phone service in the Gaza Strip, after it was completely interrupted on Saturday, at the beginning of the operation. In the southern Gaza Strip, thousands of residents flocked to UNRWA warehouses and stole food and other goods from them, while more than 750,000 Palestinians left the battle zone and moved to the Gaza Strip in the south.
Currently, it is expected that Hamas will conduct a pulse-checking operation in order to resume negotiations regarding the kidnapped persons, with Qatari mediation. In Israel, public interest in the suffering of the families of the kidnapped is increasing. Former high-ranking security officials, including Defense Minister and former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, expressed their support for the “all-for-all” deal, in which all the kidnapped persons are released, in exchange for the release of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
Israel has shown flexibility so far, but what is meant is an unprecedented concession, and it is not clear whether it can be achieved with international guarantees. In such a case, the war will end with a major achievement for Hamas, and this seems unacceptable from the point of view of the Israeli leadership.
Those who insist on turning this harsh confrontation into a Gog and Magog war are the extremist settlers in the West Bank. Not a day goes by without incidents of violence initiated by them against Palestinians, in addition to violent friction between Palestinians and Israeli forces. There is an impression that there is a party seeking an additional war similar to the 1948 war, and the expulsion of the Arab population from their homes. This news is bad and dangerous, and the government and security forces must address it as soon as possible. It is not only the Shin Bet that is concerned, but also the American administration, which warns Israel daily about what is happening in the West Bank.
In Lebanon, yesterday there was a change in Hezbollah's policy of fire. In addition to launching shells and anti-tank missiles towards Israeli army positions near the border, missiles were launched, some of which reached the Rosh Pina area [which is 14 km from the Lebanese border]. There were no casualties, but this is considered an indication that the fire was directed at civilians on a line further south. Israel is also currently attacking Hezbollah camps in areas far from the border.
A Palestinian organization has claimed responsibility for firing rockets into the Galilee. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has been silent since the beginning of the war in Gaza, in contrast to his approach in the Second Lebanon War [the July 2006 war], and in previous battles between Hamas and Israel. He promised to give a speech next Friday.
According to reports by foreign journalists from Beirut, the Lebanese government and other parliamentary blocs are calling on Hezbollah and its representatives in Parliament to refrain from committing a mistake that would drag the country into a war similar to the 2006 war. They say that Lebanon cannot bear the kind of destruction caused by Israel, against the backdrop of the serious and ongoing economic crisis it is suffering from. The country is responsible for it.