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Peace and Conflict

IDF advances towards Gaza City | Update 2nd November 2023

IDF advances towards Gaza City via BICom

IDF advances towards Gaza City

Gaza Strip: The IDF continued its offensive against Hamas fighters and their military infrastructure.

  • Commander of the 162nd Armoured Division Brig. Gen. Itzik Cohen said yesterday, “We are at the gates of Gaza City.”
  • The IDF is focused on dismantling Hamas’s military capabilities, including its ability to launch rockets, and targeting its underground network.
  • As a high priority, the IDF has targeted several cells that fired anti-tank missiles, including the the Head of Hamas’ Anti-Tank Missile Unit Muhammad A'sar.
  • The IDF has confirmed that 17 soldiers have been killed in combat in the last five days.
  • It continues to call on any Gazan civilians remaining in the north to flee south.
  • The advances and expansion of ground forces is being complimented by “a joint multi-branch effort with air and naval forces... to thwart threats on the ground and strike the Hamas terrorist organisation.”
  • According to the IDF Spokesperson’s office, “during the operational activities, IDF fighter jets, helicopters, UAVs, naval vessels and artillery are assisting the ground forces by directing and conducting simultaneous air strikes according to the operational need. Furthermore, joint IDF strikes are being carried out based on real-time intel gathered and immediately transferred to the air and naval forces.”
  • “During these strikes, dozens of Hamas terror targets were struck, including observation posts, anti-tank missile squads and launch posts, naval vessels and military posts. Furthermore, terrorists were killed, infiltrations into Israel were prevented and terror activities were thwarted.”
  • In one reported incident overnight, 30 elite Hamas fighters emerged from a tunnel with anti-tank missiles and drones. In a three-hour battle, 20 were killed, while others escaped.

Northern front: Hezbollah continues to attack Israeli targets on the border. In a similar pattern to the last three weeks, incidents in the last 24 hours included:

  • An attempted launch of anti-tank missiles towards Zar'it. An IDF tank struck the cell.
  • Gunfire from Lebanon toward the community of Yiftach. No injuries were reported. The IDF is responding with fire toward the origins of the shooting.
  • Several mortars and anti-tank missiles were launched towards Moshav Shtula, the IDF struck the cell responsible.
  • Mortars were also fired towards Shomera, northern Israel. No injuries were reported. The IDF is firing toward the origins of the launches.
  • Rockets were also fired towards Har Dov and Mount Hermon. They fell in open areas. IDF artillery struck the source of the launches in response.
  • Due to Israel’s success in so far targeting Hezbollah cells, particularly with drones, Hezbollah is now trying to target those drones as well.

West Bank: This morning, an Israeli man in his 30s was shot and killed near the West Bank town of Bayt Lid. An IDF manhunt is underway for the assailants.

  • Within the government, a policy dispute has arisen between Defence Minister Gallant and Finance Minister Smotrich regarding the delivery of the tax revenue Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
  • Last Sunday, Smotrich announced a stoppage to the transfer of funds, which amount to about $150 million (£123 million) a month, saying “I do not intend to let the State of Israel finance our enemies in Judea and Samaria who support the terrorism of Hamas and finance the 7/10 terrorists who murdered and massacred us.”
  • Gallant related to this yesterday, saying “the State of Israel is interested in maintaining stability in Judea and Samaria, always and especially during these times. The funds should be transferred immediately so that these may be used by the operational mechanism of the Palestinian Authority and by the sectors of the Palestinian Authority that are dealing with the prevention of terrorism. I think it is only appropriate to uphold the decision of the cabinet as decided several days ago.”
  • A decision on the funds is expected to be made by the war cabinet, which will have to balance the concern that some of the funds will end up providing stipends to terrorists with the fact that it remains in Israel’s interest for PA security forces to continue to combat and prevent terror emanating from the West Bank.
  • In parallel, the IDF continues to operate in the West Bank, arresting dozens of terrorist suspects.
Gaza humanitarian situation: In parallel to its offensive military campaign, Israel is facilitating humanitarian aid for the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Here is a summary of the latest update from Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories (COGAT):
  • Israel is attempting to enlarge the quantity of aid passed into the Gaza Strip by international organisations, while preserving Israel's own security interests.
  • Coordinating between them, Israel, the USA, Egypt, and the UN are passing international humanitarian aid through the Rafah Crossing in Egypt.  
  • The aid includes water, food, and medical supplies and A total of 300 trucks have entered since October 21, 2023, including 61 trucks yesterday. 
  • Hamas is in control of fuel reserves and continues to take control of private fuel reserves. Hamas controls supplies to hospitals and other vital facilities. 
  • With Hamas in control of fuel, the water, sewage, and hospital systems are all directly affected.
  • Hamas places pressure on vital resources for civilians to create a more strained situation in Gaza to increase political tension locally and internationally. 
  • All the vital facilities have alternative energy sources and are attempting to preserve the energy they have private access to. 
  • Food reserves are sufficient for the near term.
  • International organisations are permitted to bring food aid into the Gaza Strip.
  • There is hoarding of food — purchasing at the groceries and hoarding by private parties.
  • Most drinking water has been supplied from within the Gaza strip – only 10 percent of water previously came from Israel. 
  • Over the past two weeks, Israel has opened two water lines from Israel to the Gaza Strip, Birkat Sa'id and Bani Suheila, serving around 220,000 residents of the western Gaza Strip. This was hit by Hamas but has been repaired and is now functioning. 
  • Israel is planning a humanitarian area in the western Khan Younis. International humanitarian aid will be routed there as needed. A field hospital will also be established. 

Context: Despite advancing deep into Gaza, the war is now at a critical stage as troops now face the prospect of entering into Gaza City.

  • IDF commanders are cautioning that this stage of the combat will be slow, deliberate and complex.
  • Whilst Israel retains support from key international partners, it is aware of pressure to further avoid civilian casualties as possible and expand humanitarian aid.
  • Israel has come under international criticism for the strike on Tuesday in the Jabalya, which Palestinian sources claimed caused mass civilian casualties. However independent analysts have suggested that the IDF deployed bunker busting bombs that penetrated deep (100m) underground and precisely targeted Hamas tunnels. The resulting explosions deep underground caused an earthquake type effect above ground that caused the collapse of adjacent buildings.
  • According to the Hamas-controlled Gazan Health Ministry, over 8,500 Gazans have been killed. Yesterday, Gallant confirmed that thousands of terrorists have been killed.
  • Over 8,500 rockets have been fired towards Israel since October 7th, at least 550 falling short inside Gaza.

Looking ahead: Despite the military progress, IDF commanders are cautioning that this campaign could still last several weeks if not months.

  • There is growing anticipation of Hezbollah leader Nasrallah’s speech on Friday afternoon to better understand if Hezbollah and Iran are intent on escalating the conflict.
  • 400 foreign nationals and dual citizens are expected to be allowed to leave Gaza and cross to Egypt today, as well as around 60 injured Gazans to receive treatment in an Egyptian field hospital.

via BICom