Middle East Israel expands its attacks as it prepares the most selective phase in its war against Hamas

Israel is preparing for the third phase of the war that began with the unprecedented attack by the fundamentalist group Hamas on October 7

Middle East Israel expands its attacks as it prepares the most selective phase in its war against Hamas

Israel is preparing for the third phase of the war that began with the unprecedented attack by the fundamentalist group Hamas on October 7. After the massive bombings, accompanied for almost two months by the ground incursion in the second phase of an unprecedented offensive in the Gaza Strip, the army plans to move in January to a more selective phase with specific operations and the withdrawal of part of its troops, especially reservists, configuring a security cushion for Israeli border towns.

Meanwhile, Israel continues its air attacks causing, along with the fighting, and according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, 201 deaths in the last two days. The Israeli army announced, on the other hand, this Saturday afternoon the death of five more soldiers in the Gaza Strip.

The new stage of the Israeli operation coincides with the demand of the United States, which supports hitting Hamas to prevent new terrorist attacks from Gaza, but remains concerned about the high number of civilian deaths and the deterioration of the humanitarian crisis. The emphasis on more selective actions also has to do with operational needs after taking control of a large part of northern Gaza and deepening the incursion into southern Khan Yunis. Likewise, the army asked the inhabitants of an area in the center of the Palestinian enclave to leave towards the south which, according to the director of the UNWRA (UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees) office, Thomas White, "is saturated with displaced people." ". More than 80% of the 2.2 million inhabitants have abandoned their homes.

Finally, the issue of the 129 kidnapped people (20 of them declared dead) plays an increasingly important role in the Israeli Cabinet's plans, given the urgency for the health of the elderly and the growing fear that young Israelis have been raped in captivity.

The spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, Abu Obeida, announced the loss of contact with the captors of a group of five of the kidnapped people. "We believe that the hostages died in one of the Zionist bombings," he said, citing the names of three elderly Israelis, kidnapped like the rest on October 7, who a few days ago appeared in a video released by the jihadist group. It is not known if it is true or, as has happened on previous occasions during the war, part of Hamas's psychological struggle against its enemy to reduce the intensity of its air offensive and increase the pressure of the families of the kidnapped people on the Israeli government.

While the Gaza Health Ministry reported 18 dead in an Israeli bombing in Deir Balah, rescuers indicated that at least 70 members of the same family died in an attack last Friday. Among them, Issam al-Mughrabi, an employee of the UN Development Program.

This Saturday, the Israeli Army announced the death of "dozens of terrorists in the north of Gaza City in an ambush that led them to a building that Hamas used as a headquarters and was attacked" and "the arrest of more than 200 terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were transferred to Israel for interrogation in the last week."

Jihad and Hamas reported heavy fighting in Jabalia while in Khan Younis, Israeli troops encounter armed opposition based on the extensive network of tunnels. Hamas leader Yahia Sinwar was supposedly there, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned: "Now listen to the bombs of the Air Force and soon you will encounter the barrels of our weapons."

The UN Security Council resolution in favor of promoting humanitarian aid has been defined by Hamas as "insufficient" for not including the truce request, accusing the US of "defying the will of the UN General Assembly to stop the "Israel's aggression against our defenseless Palestinian people." For Hamas, a ceasefire now would prevent, or at least slow, Israel's stated attempt to end its armed wing and control in Gaza. Israel applauded that the approved text maintains its "security authority to monitor and inspect aid entering Gaza" and includes the call for the release of those kidnapped.

The resolution, voted on this Friday, caused the umpteenth clash between Israel and the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres. While noting that the way in which "Israel is carrying out its offensive creates massive obstacles to the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza," Foreign Minister Eli Cohen replied that the resolution "emphasizes the need to ensure that the UN to be more efficient in the transfer of humanitarian aid and that the aid reaches its destination and does not end up in the hands of Hamas terrorists. The Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, denounced that "the Security Council as a body has not yet condemned the massacre of October 7. This is a shame."

As Guterres reiterated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire "as the only way to begin meeting the desperate needs of the people of Gaza and end their current nightmare," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, told the CNN that his request for a ceasefire for two months is "offering a lifeline to Hamas. If you ask for a ceasefire while keeping Hamas in power, you are condemning us all to future bloodshed."

Sinwar maintains his refusal to negotiate a ceasefire and the release of hostages if Israel does not cease its massive offensive. What does not stop but increases is the pace of attacks by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which are responded to by the Israeli Air Force against its troops and infrastructure in southern Lebanon.