Israel, which is at war with the Islamic militant group Hamas in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, has deployed ground troops to the northern part of the Gaza Strip, its stronghold, and has begun a full-scale operation to destroy Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference in Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel, late in the afternoon on the 28th (local time) and declared, “The second phase of the war against Hamas has begun.”
Israel has declared that it will wage war against Hamas in three stages, defining the first stage as air strikes, the second stage as the deployment of ground troops and the destruction of Hamas, and the third stage as the establishment of a new security system (establishment of an alternative regime). ‘Start of phase 2’ can be interpreted to mean the start of a ground war. The New York Times ( NYT ) reported immediately after Netanyahu’s conference, “Israel appears to have launched an invasion (ground war) against the Gaza Strip.” Israel has been waging war against Hamas, which kidnapped or killed over 1,000 civilians in a surprise attack on the country on the 7th.
The Israeli military launched the largest all-out attack by land, sea, and air against the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on the afternoon of the 27th. This was shortly after Hamas attacked Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas with hundreds of rockets. On this day, Israel launched an airstrike on the northern part of the Gaza Strip and deployed ground troops led by tanks. In the process, dozens of Hamas’ key commanders were killed and about 450 military facilities, including tunnels that served as Hamas’ bunkers and movement passages, were destroyed. The Israeli military announced on the 29th, “We are continuing to expand the ground battle by deploying additional troops.” Earlier on the 28th, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “The ground troops (who entered the day before) are still staying in the Gaza Strip. “The operation will continue until there is a new order,” he said, indicating that this attack was different from existing limited ground operations.
The international community, including the United Nations, has been asking Israel to exercise restraint, concerned that a ground war could result in many civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip. However, Israel pressed ahead with the deployment of ground troops, saying it could not postpone retaliation against Hamas, which killed numerous innocent civilians first. Islamic countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, simultaneously announced their positions on the 28th condemning Israel’s deployment of ground troops.
The Israeli military opened the door to a full-scale ground war with high-intensity bombing of the Gaza Strip on the afternoon of the 27th. First, they dropped a large number of ‘bunker buster’ bombs that penetrated dozens of meters underground and exploded beneath the ground. It was aimed at Hamas’ tunnels extending underground in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip. Due to this attack, fires erupted in various parts of Gaza City, and the Internet and telephone services in Gaza were all paralyzed, but were partially restored on the 29th.
Israeli ground forces advanced into the Gaza Strip starting on the night of the 27th. According to videos posted on social media and eyewitness accounts, Israeli armored forces with tanks, along with artillery and engineers, entered the Gaza Strip through the northern coast and western border and are advancing toward Gaza City, the stronghold of Hamas.
The Israeli military did not disclose the exact scale of the operation while deploying ground forces. At a press briefing on the night of the 27th, Israeli military spokesman (Major) Daniel Hagari only said, “Tonight, ground forces are expanding operations in the Gaza Strip and significantly strengthening attacks.” He also said on the 29th, “More troops entered the Gaza Strip overnight, and ground operations in the northern part of the Gaza Strip are continuing.” However, it was not disclosed how many troops were deployed. At the same time, Israel is also refraining from expressions such as ‘launching a ground war’ or ‘full invasion’. At a press conference on the 28th, Prime Minister Netanyahu avoided giving a direct answer, neither confirming nor denying the question, “Has the Israeli military’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip begun in earnest?”
Based on this situation, British media such as the Financial Times and the Economist analyzed, “It appears that the Israeli military has chosen to seize the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip and begin a siege (of Gaza City) instead of a full-scale invasion of Gaza City.” AP and CNN also supported this analysis, saying, “The scale of the current operation is not as large as expected.” This means that a ground war can last from as little as several months to as long as a year or more. This development differs from previous predictions that if a ground war breaks out, the Army, Navy, and Air Force will launch an all-out offensive and end the war within 3 to 6 weeks. Prime Minister Netanyahu also hinted at a long-term war, saying, “It will be a long and difficult war.”
This change in Israel’s ground war strategy is analyzed as a result of being aware of negative public opinion in the international community. Israel’s launch of the ground war has caused great concern not only in neighboring Arab and Islamic 토토사이트countries with pro-Palestinian positions, but also in Western countries such as the United States and Europe. Considering Hamas’ existing behavior of using civilians as ‘human shields’, this attack also carries a high risk of causing massive civilian casualties. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government continued to request Israel to reconsider large-scale ground warfare on the 27th.
There is also an intention to minimize Israel’s sacrifice. The structure of Gaza City, which has many large buildings and a spider web of tunnels with a total length of over 500 km, poses a great threat to the Israeli military. Hamas is expected to use this environment to deploy snipers and explosives in various locations to attack Israeli forces. Based on this, the NYT warned, “If a ground war breaks out, the Gaza Strip will turn into a ‘playground of hell.’”
The United Nations and the European Union ( EU ) have repeatedly called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu is not backing down an inch, saying, “This war is a second war of independence, and if Hamas cannot be eliminated this time, Israel’s security will be forever threatened.” There is some criticism that the launch of the ground war is threatening the safety of 229 Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip, including civilians, but he said, “We must put more pressure on Hamas to make it easier to release the hostages.”