In recent closed-door discussions, the prime minister cited two reasons for the delay in the ground entry into Gaza.
- The first reason is related to the issue of the captured soldiers and the hope to release as many of them as possible before the IDF launches its maneuver.
- The second reason is the need to increase the readiness of the forces and the resulting concern about a high casualty rate.
In the first issue concerning the captured soldiers, Israel is under pressure from both the families within the country and world leaders, especially those whose citizens have been abducted to Gaza. Both are anxious about what might happen to their loved ones once the ground operation begins. Their concern is entirely justifiable: Hamas may be forced to intensify the defense of its fighters and could sacrifice the captives, either to ensure their survival or out of revenge.
However, the issue of the captives is not occurring in a vacuum.
Israel cannot indefinitely maintain the troop buildup at the border and keep the economy in limbo, not to mention the tension in the north. It will need to decide soon on the direction it will take, and it is likely to move westward.
Any other option will ensure the survival of Hamas and will not resolve the problem of the captives.
Let’s be frank: for now, Hamas is the one directing the show. It may have gone underground, but it has been writing the script of what is unfolding. Israel is applying pressure from the air and is hesitant to engage in a ground invasion, while Hamas is skillfully playing on Israel’s soft spots by cynically using the captured. Nothing Hamas has done is random: who gets released; which information is published; what they say, and it is clear that not even the measured rocket fire is random, as it continues to keep an entire nation on edge.
If Israel seeks victory, it needs to start taking control of the situation.
It should reach out to the media and jointly work not to broadcast Hamas propaganda, not to show videos of the captives, and not to host press conferences of those who have been released.
The information can be conveyed directly to the families without playing on the emotions of those who have not yet been released (and of the entire nation). This will also spare the world from the deceptive spectacle presented by an organization that outwardly appears to care about the captives, allowing Israel to continue to cast it as another iteration of ISIS.
Reducing the focus on the captives will also alleviate the pressure on the government.
The claim that the IDF is not yet prepared is in contradiction to statements made by its commanders who have clarified through various means and forums in recent days that preparations are complete, and they are now awaiting a green light.
One can understand the concerns of the ministers, especially against the backdrop of the October 7 failure, and also given statements from various experts who argue that the army is not ready for the mission.
- However, a prolonged delay will not only fail to add any value but may also be detrimental to Israel.
Let’s be honest: this will be an ugly, tough, and casualty-heavy ordeal with trench warfare, one in which Hamas may achieve some gains.
But Israel has no choice but do this; It has no other way to win a decisive victory over Hamas and oust it from power; it has no other way to restore security to the border communities and reestablish deterrence in the entire region. And above all, there are no workarounds.
It must confront Hamas directly – and win.
Source: Yoav Limor – Israel Hayom