Source: The Times of Israel, By Emanuel Favian, October 23, 2023
Army wants to carry out incursion even at cost of heavy losses, fears political echelon may never give the order despite high level of readiness.
The Israel Defense Forces believes that in order to attain the government’s stated objectives in the war against the Hamas terror group, the military must begin its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip sooner rather than later, The Times of Israel learned Monday.
Israel says its war against Hamas is aimed at destroying the Iran-backed terror group’s infrastructure and has vowed to dismantle the organization after the October 7 massacres.
Led by Hamas and carried out with other terror groups, the assault saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing at least 222 hostages of all ages, under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
The Times of Israel learned that, after 16 days of airstrikes, the IDF has told the government that it is fully prepared for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and believes it can achieve the goals set out for it, even at the risk of heavy casualties to soldiers, and amid ongoing attacks by Hezbollah in the north.
But the military fears that the government may not ever give the order to begin the ground offensive, or postpone it for a lengthy period.
Should the army need to move its focus to the northern front instead of Gaza, it is confident that it could pivot within just a few days. The IDF has already heavily bolstered the Lebanon border, but most forces remain near Gaza, ahead of the expected ground offensive.
Regarding the 222 confirmed hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the military has been preparing for the possibility of rescue operations amid the ground offensive, according to information seen by The Times of Israel.
The army is concerned that further hostage releases by Hamas could lead the political leadership to delay a ground incursion or even halt it midway. On Friday night, Hamas released an American mother and daughter. According to some reports, this contributed to a postponement of the ground offensive, in light of hopes that more could be freed.