IDF continues aerial campaign via BICom
What’s happening: The IDF has confirmed that over 320 military targets have been hit inside in the Gaza Strip in the last day.
- Targets have included, “tunnels containing Hamas terrorists, dozens of operational command centres, some of which concealed Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, military compounds, and observation posts.”
- In addition, “the IDF struck targets that posed a threat to forces in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip who are preparing for ground operations, including dozens of mortar shell and anti-tank missile launch posts.”
- Yesterday there was also an exchange of fire close to the Gaza border fence. One IDF soldier was killed after troops entered Gaza in an effort to collect intelligence on the kidnapped Israelis.
- There was also an incident of IDF mistaken fire towards an Egyptian observation tower. According to the Egyptian military statement, “several of the observation personnel were slightly injured. The Israeli side immediately expressed its regret for the unintentional incident and is conducting an investigation of the circumstances of the incident."
- In parallel more humanitarian aid is entering Gaza from Egypt. Israel consents to food water and medical supplies under the condition that it goes to the civilian population and not to Hamas.
- President Yitzhak Herzog revealed yesterday in an interview to Sky News that Hamas fighters were carrying instructions on how to make chemical weapons. The material on a USB stick found on one of the terrorists from October 7 showed that Hamas planned to use cyanide against civilians. Herzog said, “It’s al-Qaida material. We’re dealing with ISIS, al-Qaida and Hamas.”
- Yesterday Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel, now totalling over 7,600. No rockets were fired overnight, though sirens were once again in Ashkelon this morning.
- The IDF also confirmed that a total of 550 rockets have misfired and landed inside Gaza Strip.
- In the north the IDF continued to target cells of anti-tank missile launchers.
- Overnight Israel targeted Hezbollah military infrastructure including a military compound and an observation position.
- Last night Hezbollah announced their 27th fatality, with Israel claiming to have struck 20 Hezbollah cells along the border.
Context: The government has set the military two main objectives to destroy Hamas’s military capacity and removing Hamas from controlling the Strip.
- The aerial bombing campaign is currently only in its first stage, before an anticipated ground incursion.
- The latest confirmed number of hostages in Hamas captivity has risen to 222 including 30 babies and children.
- There is also concern over the connectivity between the north and the south. So far Hezbollah has joined the fighting but not the war. One scenario is that they are waiting for a ground incursion in the south to expand their range of targets deeper into Israel.
- With a potential escalation in the north, Israel faces a much more powerful and capable enemy, with advanced precision missiles and anti-aircraft munitions.
- Iran not only funds and supports Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organisations, but also backs the Houthis in Yemen that launched missiles and drones (intercepted by the US) towards Israel at the end of last week. They also sponsor militias in Syria and Iraq that could also attack Israel.
Looking ahead: The IDF has declared its ‘readiness’ for a ground incursion and is awaiting instruction from the political echelon.
- One reason for the delay could be related to international mediation via the US and Qatar over the release of some more of the hostages.
- Concern continues that Iran is encouraging its proxies to attack Israel, and with the international community distracted, they could also be using this time to advance their uranium enrichment, and even break-out over the nuclear threshold.