In the wake of reports in the international media that the US has asked Israel to delay its ground offensive in Gaza, General (res.) Israel Ziv, former Commander of the Gaza Division and former Head of the IDF Operations Directorate analyzes the situation for “Globes.”
From your perspective, why is the ground offensive being delayed? Is there a possibility that we won’t go into Gaza?
There is no possibility that we will not enter.
- It is irrelevant, nobody is saying that we will not enter, neither in the army nor in the cabinet. We currently feel that time is on our side for several reasons. It will be a long story, it is not an operation that will last days. This is a war of months. If there is any possibility to realize the process to free hostages, it is worth giving it the necessary time, although we are not talking about weeks.”
Ziv added we must not forget that a ground offensive requires a lot of preparation:
- “The IDF has not conducted such maneuvers for quite some time. The plans are new, and meanwhile we are getting results in the standoff. It’s not uncertainty or reluctance, if the entry has to wait another week, it’s not bad. This is a tactical matter, not a strategic one. Everything that happened in the past was a reaction to rockets and local events. There is a state of war here. We were not ready, this is a fact and not a question, and the answer should also be appropriate. It is not possible to respond with a weak response. You can’t build things like this in two days. This time is being used well to build the attack.”
And what do you think about reports that Israel is being pressured by the Americans on the matter?
- “In my opinion, the Americans are not preventing anything, but want to emphasize the humanitarian issue and try not to get dragged into a regional war. They are not getting involved in planning the offensive. They ensure that this backing will lead to an unequivocal and clear result in the destruction of Hamas. They want ROI (return on investment). The Europeans also don’t want Hamas to continue to exist. There is partnership here with the US and complete backing of Israel’s aims.”
There are also reports of tension between Netanyahu and the military echelon. From what you know – is this true?
- “There is always a built-in tension between the political and military echelons. But I have a different feeling, that there is more connection and agreement than disagreements. At least the war cabinet is functioning well. We understand the magnitude of the hour, and that this is not the time for recriminations. There is a seriousness and very weighty discussions there. It should be seen very positively. There are political tensions on the margins, but the system functions well in making decisions.”
Speaking about the ground offensive, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Reichman University, said,
- “The goal is to eliminate Hamas, we need to find the most effective way of operating. Not necessarily what the enemy expects, you need some tricks to make the war work. The matter of the hostages should also be taken into account.”
Are we under US pressure?
- “There is large-scale American aid. This leads to a dialogue with the US, and it is relevant to the war in Lebanon, because it can have regional consequences. There is a government decision to negate Hamas’s capabilities as a terrorist governing body to the west of us, and that is what will be done.”