Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said this week that the Israel Defense Forces is preparing for the next step in Operation Swords of Iron — a combined operation in the air, ground, and sea.
After commending troops for neutralizing dozens of terrorists during Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 invasion, Gallant emphasized the critical role Israel’s navy will play in the next phase of the Gaza operation. Israel’s army has been positioned at full readiness along Israel’s southern border while its air force continues to strike hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza. Nearly 18 days into the war, it appears Israel is on the verge of carrying out a three-pronged attack in Gaza.
Overview of a Terror Attack
On Oct. 7, around 2,500 terrorists used paragliders, vessels, and explosives-laden bulldozers to breach Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. At least 1,400 people were slaughtered. As many as 250 were kidnapped and remain captive in Hamas’ vast underground tunnel network. The barbaric methods used by the attackers, including torture, sexual violence, and beheadings, recalled Holocaust-era pogroms in Europe.
Israeli officials immediately called for war against Hamas and a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. While the IDF prepares for a ground invasion into Gaza, troops and reservists are gearing up to protect the country by land, air, and sea.
Israel Is Thwarting Fire From Gaza and Lebanon
The IDF has evacuated at least a few dozen communities positioned within a few kilometers of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, 14 Israeli villages near the country’s northern border with Lebanon have been evacuated. Lebanon-based Hezbollah is aligned with Hamas. Both organizations are fully backed by Iran and wish to annihilate Israel.
When Hamas launched its surprise attack, Israeli and American officials immediately worried that Hezbollah and other aligned groups in the region could exploit the crisis to attack Israel. For this reason, the Biden administration has deployed two carrier strike groups to the Eastern Mediterranean.
While flare-ups in violence along Israel’s northern border are not rare, Hezbollah has been launching missile, rocket, and other projectile barrages with increased frequency since Oct. 7. According to Reuters, 11 militants belonging to Hezbollah and aligned groups have been killed in Lebanon, while at least five Israeli soldiers and one civilian have been killed. Last night, the IDF said it had struck several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon overnight, including one launch spot.
As detailed in the report, “In later incidents, Israeli forces struck three groups of fighters who launched or were preparing to launch anti-armor missiles across the border, the military said, adding that it also shot down a drone approaching from within Lebanon. Hezbollah-run TV channel Al-Manar reported Israeli bombardments around Aalma Shaab and surrounding areas, which lie in the west of the borderlands, and also around Aitaroun further east. The area around the Lebanese town of Hula, opposite Israel’s Kiryat Shmona, also faced Israeli bombardment, Al-Manar reported. The Hula district has been a particular focus for strikes and counter-strikes in recent days.”
Over the week, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched scores of rockets targeting Israel’s south, while Israel struck several terrorist command centers and other assets in Gaza. According to the IDF, one of these airstrikes killed a senior Hamas engineer responsible for developing many of the weapons used to target Israel. One such Hamas-launched rocket landed in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, damaging a home and several cars.
Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry reports that at least 4,100 Palestinians have been killed in Operation Swords of Iron so far. However, these numbers have not been independently verified. Additionally, these numbers include people killed at a Gaza City hospital last week, during a strike attributed to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.
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