Israel’s plan for a new military campaign in southern Gaza, aiming to dismantle Hamas leadership, was discussed by retired Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, former Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Head of Military Intelligence at a press briefing hosted by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, National Public Diplomacy Directorate on 16 November.
The operation, described as unprecedented in nature, includes temporary civilian evacuations and involves a series of campaigns including ground invasions and rebuilding efforts, with international collaboration from Sinai, Egypt. The strategy also addresses the ongoing conflict with Hezbollah along the northern border, highlighting a delicate balance of power and the anticipation of further confrontations.
Israel plans a campaign in the new year based around ground raids and standoff capabilities in southern Gaza that will result in temporary evacuations of the resident population. Asked if it was possible that civilians from the South of Gaza might be asked to move en-masse to the Northern areas of Gaza, Hayman said this was impracticable as 40% of buildings are no longer of a liveable standard.
Within the operational concept for this campaign, evacuations would be localised on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis for limited periods of time.
Hayman described the conflict as unlike other wars Israel has been involved in, with expectations for a prolonged conflict consisting of four separate campaigns.
A first campaign of airstrikes against targets in Gaza has already been completed, while the current ground invasion campaign of Northern Gaza and Gaza City is scheduled to be completed by 1 January.
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What remains for Israel’s military strategy is a ground invasion campaign of southern Gaza followed by a final campaign to rebuild Gaza, intended to be conducted by a joint task force of nations operating out of Sinai in Egypt. No aide will move directly between Israel and Gaza.
While Hamas had 24 battalions, at the present moment Israeli Defence forces have won decisive victories over most of the 14 Hamas battalions that were stationed in Northern Gaza, barring the four Eastern battalions in Northern Gaza that have evaded serious losses. Estimates of Hamas’s fighting forces include 20,000 troops, of which 5,000 are an elite core.
On the northern border the balance of losses between Hezbollah and Israel stands at 76 Hezbollah operatives to 7 IDF soldiers. Hayman cautions that Hezbollah has a history of deterrence calculation that implies further attacks are likely to be made against Israel to inflict closer range of casualty figures between the two sides.