The situation in Israel continues to be tense as the Israeli Defense Forces are on standby to launch a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza. As of now, Tel Aviv has agreed to hold off invading until the U.S. military puts more forces in the area.
The Israeli Air Force is pounding hundreds of targets within Gaza, killing and wounding hundreds of Hamas terrorists and Palestinian civilians.
On the other end, Hamas continues to be defiant, launching missiles and small-scale attacks against Israel. The terrorist group also holds scores of hostages and is threatening to execute them if Israel invades.
Ground Invasion and Hostages
According to the German newspaper Bild, the Israelis won’t hold back a possible ground invasion of Gaza over the issue of the hostages. Hamas is currently holding over 200 hostages and has been using them as deterrence against an Israeli ground invasion.
The Israeli Army is likely waiting for the air force to take out the most important targets before it rolls in with tanks and armored personnel carriers.
Meanwhile, two more hostages were released this week. Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper, two elderly women, were released on Wednesday.
“When we arrived in Gaza, they first told us that they believed in the Quran and would not harm us, they fed us well, were kind, a doctor and paramedic visited us regularly, everything was provided for us,” Lifshitz said.
But their experience leading up to their captivity in Gaza was traumatic. Hostages were beaten and humiliated as they were snatched from their homes in Israel to Gaza’s underground tunnel complex.
An International Military Coalition
Meanwhile, the international military presence around Israel continues to grow.
European countries are getting ready for forceful evacuations of their citizens from Israel and Lebanon. German and French special operations forces have set up camp in Cyprus and are on standby for contingencies.
The U.S. military has already sent two aircraft carrier strike groups in the region and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which is special operations capable. The Pentagon has also relocated a number of C-130 tactical transport aircraft and support personnel to Greece to be on standby for potential evacuation operations.
Thus far, Israel has been adamant that it doesn’t want any direct military assistance or foreign boots on the ground. However, Tel Aviv was allowed a number of U.S. military advisors to support the Israeli Defense Forces. According to Axios, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Glynn, a former commander of the Marine Forces Special Operations Command and with experience against the Islamic State, is leading the advisory group.
The increased presence of U.S. forces in the region is also in response to credible threats about U.S. citizens and facilities in the region.
According to U.S. defense officials, the Pentagon assesses that state and non-state actors in the region—mainly Iran—are considering escalating the ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas into a wider regional conflict.
The U.S. military is ready to counter any hostile actions in the area. Whether Iran understands the danger is another thing.
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.
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