Israel Pounds Southern Gaza as Officials Say ‘Long War’ Expected for a Year or More

The first day of renewed fighting in Gaza post-truce. A UNICEF spokesperson said of the Friday bombardment, “This nightmare for people today just somehow got so much worse.” Already, Palestinian sources have said that over 100 have been killed in the last hours of IDF bombing of the Strip. Israeli media is reporting that at least 50 rockets have been launched from Gaza onto southern Israel.

The aerial campaign has even expanded to include the southern half of the Strip, after throughout the early phase of the conflict Gazans were told to abandon their homes in the north and flee south for safety:

Footage verified by Al Jazeera shows numerous plumes of smoke in the sky from Israeli army strikes on Khan Younis. The Khan Younis in southern Gaza is where thousands of Palestinians have fled from bombing farther north.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli army dropped leaflets on the city, instructing Palestinians there to flee farther south to Rafah.

The White House has said it supports Israel, and has blamed Hamas for the ceasefire’s collapse. Israeli officials have explained that Hamas refused to release ten more women captives. Israel says “This violated the terms of the agreement, which specified that Hamas would first release all women and children being held in Gaza in exchange for Israel agreeing to a truce for as long as nine days.”

Perhaps the biggest and most ominous development in terms of what the future holds is seen in Israeli officials.’ The Netanyahu is planning for a “long war” which could reach over the next year or more. FT writes in a new report:

Israel is planning a campaign against Hamas that will stretch for a year or more, with the most intensive phase of the ground offensive continuing into early 2024, according to several people familiar with the preparations. The multi-phase strategy envisages Israeli forces, who are garrisoned inside north Gaza, making an imminent push deep into the south of the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The goals include killing the three top Hamas leaders — Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa — while securing “a decisive” military victory against the group’s 24 battalions and underground tunnel network and destroying its “governing capability in Gaza”.

“This will be a very long war . . . We’re currently not near halfway to achieving our objectives,” said one person familiar with the Israeli war plans. Israel’s overall strategy for Gaza is flexible, with timing dictated by multiple “clocks”, including operational progress on the ground, international pressure and opportunities to free Israeli hostages, the people said.

We’re only eight weeks in, and already there are signs this could easily spark a broader conflict. Another year of the bloodshed certainly opens the likelihood for a Mideast-wide conflagration involving possibly the US, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Yemen’s Houthis. 

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Zero Hedges

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