On day 7 of the war between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli military is preparing to launch a large-scale ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.
According to Tel Aviv, Israeli forces have already begun attacking targets with ground forces in the northern part of Gaza.
On Friday, Israeli aircraft dropped tens of thousands of flyers in Gaza, urging civilians to evacuate the northern part of the territory and move to the south. More than 1 million people live in the area that the Israeli military has asked to be evacuated.
Imminent Ground Invasion
Footage from the ground shows Israeli Merkava MK4 main battle tanks, M113 armored personal carriers, and M109 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers lining up in southern Israel on the border with Gaza. Israel has vowed to avenge Hamas terrorist attacks that started on Saturday and caught Tel Aviv and the world by surprise.
About 25 miles long and 9 miles wide at its widest, the Gaza Strip holds over 2 million people, making it one of the densest areas in the world. The Israeli military’s request for the whole of Gaza’s population to squeeze in half the territory seems unrealistic. The United Nations (U.N) agrees with that assessment, stating that Tel Aviv’s request is impossible on such a short notice.
However, it is most likely that the Israelis will move along with their ground offensive regardless of whether civilians decide to follow the order to relocate.
A Rising Death Toll
According to the latest figures released by the Israeli Defense Force, the Hamas terrorist attacks have killed more than 1,300 Israeli troops, law enforcement officers, and civilians and wounded over 3,200. In addition, approximately 120 Israelis and foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, are being held hostage by Hamas within the Gaza Strip.
These casualties amount to the most concentrated losses for the Jewish nation since the Holocaust and the end of World War Two. It is clear that the Israeli government will take this war to an end and will try to inflict such a heavy blow on Hamas that the terrorist organization, which enjoys the direct and indirect support of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, won’t be able to mount any other terrorist attack in the near future.
The Israelis are striking hard, but that comes with a heavy humanitarian cost. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, Israeli air strikes and artillery fire have killed over 1,800 people and wounded more 6,400, most of which are civilians, with dozens of children killed as well. The Israeli military and security services have also killed more than 1,500 Hamas terrorists within Israel.
Since Saturday, the Israeli military has struck almost 2,700 targets within Gaza. Tel Aviv argues that Hamas has embedded itself within Palestinian society at such a level that it is impossible to take out legitimate military targets without killing civilians. By using innocent families as human shields, the Israelis argue, Hamas is trying to prevent airstrikes against its hideouts and safe houses.
Unfortunately for innocent civilians, the Israelis will go through with airstrikes even if civilians might be hurt.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.