The IDF notes that 175 Israeli soldiers have died since the incursion into Gaza began on October 27th. 519 soldiers and police have been killed since the Hamas invasion of Israel on Oct 7th, that resulted in over 1200 Israelis massacred and 242 kidnapped. 133 still remain prisoners in Gaza.
Stage three of the war in Gaza has begun, according to Ynetnews. “This stage will take six months. Some of the soldiers will be kept on duty in case of an escalation against Hezbollah in the north on the Lebanese border.” According to the report, the IDF will withdraw 5 brigades from the Strip, Palestinians have reported seeing tanks withdrawing from several areas of Gaza City.
Reuters said, that an Israeli official confirms there is a transition to a more focused phase, which he says will still be intense: “No one is talking about the flight of The Dove of Peace over the Shejaia refugee camp.” The source stated that some of the fighters who will leave the Strip will be prepared for a scenario of escalation in the north: “The situation there cannot continue, the next six months will be a critical period”
Each Brigade consists of 2,000 – 8,000 troops. and includes infantry, armor, artillery and reconnaissance units.
Reportedly, the US has been pressuring Israel to scale down the fighting in Gaza and focus more on specific areas in the Gaza strip. The US is concerned about civilian casualties in the densely populated areas of Gaza, especially for those who fled to the south to escape the fighting in the north.
According to Amos Yadlin, former head of the Ministry Intelligence, speaking on Channel 12TV, “We are now in the third phase.” Yadlin said that the US wants Israel to withdraw and only strike at specific points. The IDF has a different view. “And as to the rebuilding of Gaza,” Yadlin said, “Israel will not rebuild Gaza before we rebuild Kibbutz Beeri, and other communities destroyed by Hamas.”
Controversy arose after Minister of Intelligence Gila Gamliel, of the Likud Party, said that she has been in talks with the Congo and other African nations for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza. Gamliel insists that only resettlement outside of Gaza will stop Hamas from eventually again firing rockets into Israel. This follows statements by ultra-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotritch that Gazans should be relocated outside of Gaza. However, Matthew Miller, a US state department spokesman said, “This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible.”
Israel has been accused by Hamas of the assassination in Beirut of Saleh Arouri, the most senior Hamas member to have been killed so far in the war. Arouri was second in command to Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh who is based in Doha, Qatar. Hamas had dubbed Arour “The Architect of October 7,”
In the north, Hezbollah has continued to fire rockets at Israel on a near daily basis. Residents of Israel’s north have mostly been evacuated due to the incessant rocket fire. Four Israeli civilians and nine IDF soldiers have been killed in the exchanges in the north since Oct 8th.
According to Ohad Hemo, Arab affairs reporter on Channel 12TV, Hamas can still fire rockets, even from the Jabaliya refugee camp in north Gaza. He also said that Hamas’ still has the ability to govern Gaza. Hemo said that the Health, Interior and other ministries are still functioning.
As we end the work week here it interesting to note that there are really two different societies operating in Israel right now. There is a society composed of people who have suffered direct loss or angst as a result of the war. That society includes parents, grandparents, spouses, children and siblings of the now thousands of Israelis who have either died, suffered serious injury as a result of the war or whose relatives are still or were hostages, and whose lives will forever be changed.
The other society is composed of the rest of us who know people in the above category and sympathize with them as best we can, but who also go about our daily lives in some respects as if there is no war. Affected, yes. Impacted, yes. But still doing the things we always did, but perhaps less joyful, more worried for the future and, somewhat ashamedly, grateful that we are not in the “other” category.
Yet there is unity among both segments of society and a joint wish for the war to end, the troops to come home, the injured to recover, the remaining hostages to be released, and what passes for normal life in this part of the world to return. May it be so, sooner rather than later. Shabbat shalom.