Command discusses whether to invade southern Gaza or reach interim hostage agreement, Jerusalem Post reports
Israeli military and civilian leadership are engaged in a discussion “at the highest levels” about what to do next in Gaza, the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the discussion.
Options reportedly include expanding the ongoing military operation in the southern part of the Palestinian enclave or reaching an interim agreement with the armed Hamas movement, exchanging at least some Israeli hostages in exchange for a cessation of hostilities or the release of Palestinian prisoners.
According to the newspaper, there is even a possibility that Israel and Hamas are close to reaching some kind of deal “It may now slow progress in southern Gaza.”
The military and civilian leaders in Israel have repeatedly pledged to crush Hamas and secure the release of Israeli hostages captured by the Palestinian movement at the beginning of the conflict. So far, Israel has not made much progress in achieving the latter goal, the media acknowledged, adding that now may be the moment when “Budget” The two declared objectives occurred.
The report indicated that the army appears keen to continue fighting no matter what happens. On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy said unequivocally that he would push south “If it were up to [him]”.
At the same time, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant spoke about moving the war to a new stage “Phase” The newspaper noted that it did not mention anything about attacking the southern part of Gaza.
The latest escalation between Hamas and Israel began on October 7, when the Palestinian armed group launched a surprise attack in the south of the country, breaching the border in multiple locations.
The movement took dozens of hostages, both military and civilian, and has held them in Gaza since then. Only a small portion of them were released, while some hostages ended up being killed in Israeli air strikes during the operation in Gaza, as Hamas claimed.
Israel responded to the attack with an intense bombing campaign in Gaza, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties and widespread destruction in the Strip. The Israeli army also launched a ground operation, dividing the enclave into two parts and focusing on the north, where the army was able to control a wide area.
The idea embraced by some is that the strategic location of the Israeli army in the northern part of Gaza means that it may take a long time. “Natural pause” With the expansion of the operation in the south.
However, moving south will require a military commitment “Large numbers of air, naval and ground forces” And “Maneuvering a huge logistics complex” The Jerusalem Post warned that it would continue throughout the country.