The ground invasion of Gaza has begun

October 28, 2023 • 6:00 am

This is according to the Jerusalem Post, though other sources like the NYT report that Israel is in Gaza and has created a communications and power blackout (but are unwilling to say that this is the ground invasion).

The JP’s headline:

And a precis:

The IDF has entered Gaza, and a ground invasion is underway, IDF Spokesman R.-Adm. Daniel Hagari said Saturday morning.

“We have entered Gaza and are expanding operations,” Hagari said, adding that there were no reports of injuries.

He noted that “this is a war” but that the IDF operated in a controlled and strategic manner, with specific goals as its guide.

The IDF has been threatening a full ground invasion for more than two weeks, but due to a combination of reasons – some known and some unknown – a full incursion has yet to occur. On Thursday, the IDF sent troops inside Gaza to strike Hamas targets – both on the ground and via the sea. The troops entered and exited the strip in the same evening.

However, on Friday night, Hagari said that IDF troops were expanding their operations: “In the last few hours, we have severely increased our attacks in Gaza,” he said during an evening briefing, noting that attacks were taking place from the air, sea and land.

. . . Overnight, Israel also took out several senior Hamas terrorists, including the head of the aerial formation and the naval commando unit. Both terrorists played strategic roles in the planning of the October 7 Hamas massacre that killed more than 1,400 Israelis.

From the NYT (click to read); note that they quote the same sources, but the events are interpreted differently. I suspect that the report above is correct: Israel is in Gaza and will not withdraw.

A NYT summary:

Israeli forces were still on the ground in Gaza at least 12 hours after entering the territory, the military said on Saturday, in what would be their most extensive ground operation in the enclave since the Hamas attack on Israel that killed more than 1,400 civilians and soldiers.

On Friday evening, Israel made incursions into the Gaza Strip after launching an intense bombardment, with artillery and airstrikes, military officials said. They did not describe the presence of troops in Gaza as a full-scale invasion, which Israel has been threatening to launch for weeks.

For two days, Israeli forces and tanks had made small forays into Gaza, but previous land incursions have lasted only a few hours.

Telecommunications and internet networks went down overnight, and most people in Gaza could not be reached by phone. The widespread blackout sparked fear and panic in Gaza, according to those residents who were able to reach the outside world, as people struggled to get information or reach one another to check on family and friends amid the bombardment.

The head of the World Health Organization said on X that the blackout was “making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured,” and international aid agencies said they had lost contact with their staff there.

The Israeli military said in a statement on Saturday that its forces had hit tunnels, underground command posts and other infrastructure. It said that several Hamas fighters had been killed in the strikes. There was no immediate confirmation from Hamas.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, told reporters on Friday that Israeli ground forces were “expanding” their activity in the Gaza Strip, without providing details.

It is a tough time, and I haven’t the slightest joy that Israel is finally retaliating for the Hamas butchery of October 7.  Many people, both Palestinian and Israeli, will be killed in the next weeks and months, and I don’t really understand how this will meet Israel’s goals of destroying Hamas. (For a ground-invasion scenario that seems more efficacious, see Bret Stephens’s suggestion.)

In fact, although I think Hamas has to be destroyed for the good of everyone (they’ve ruined Gaza and oppressed their own people), the Gazans can’t vote it out or pressure the organization to disband; those are non-starters.  And everyone agrees that Israel had to defend itself.  All I can say is that this is depressing, but if Israel simply withdrew, as many seem to want, it would be worse than “business as usual”, for terrorists from the north and south would be empowered, and Israel would face an existential threat.

And, of course, there are still the hostages. What will happen to them now? What will the U.S. do? Will Hezbollah be drawn in, in which case the U.S. will be drawn in?

If you have a suggestion about what course Israel could take now that would be the least bad, put it below. Otherwise, we can only sit and wait, knowing that many deaths are in the offing, and even in the unlikely event that Hamas is destroyed, Israel’s already rock-bottom reputation in the world will sink even lower.

39 thoughts on “The ground invasion of Gaza has begun

  1. Naturally, I am nervous about this incredibly difficult operation, but I am comforted by the knowledge that if anybody venue do it, it is the IDF.

  2. I honestly don’t know what course Israel could take now that would be the least bad. I can’t see a good way out. I wish, at some point in the last 50 years, withdrawal to the 1967 borders had happened, I wish Yitzhak Rabin hadn’t been murdered. Gaza is under the control of the murderous fanatics in Hamas, but from what I see, ordinary people in Gaza are much like people everywhere, with the same hopes and dreams, frailties, and all that, and ordinary people are being bombed out of their homes and forced to flee. I don’t think that’s right.

    But, as a glimmer of hope, I grew up in England when the IRA were murdering civilians, using weapons bought mostly with funds provided from the USA, and nobody thought the Troubles would ever end. And, as a small miracle, the Good Friday Agreement happened, partly through the offices of the much, and often justly, maligned Bill Clinton.

    Yes, I know, not a suggestion as to what Israel should do. I don’t know. Maybe make everyone involved watch “Derry Girls”?

    1. I don’t know the answer of what is least bad either. However I do know that Hamas must be destroyed, as Nazi had to be destroyed in WWII. About return to ’67 lines: Israel wanted negotiations about it directly after the victory and got the famous “Three Nos” from Arabs.

      A few weeks before he was murdered, Yitzhak Rabin said to the Knesset that the Oslo Accords didn’t work and something must be done. It couldn’t work because one side wanted to divide the land so that both nations could live, side by side, in peace, while the other side wanted only to kill all the Jews.

      And about those ordinary people from Gaza, who just want a quiet life: I highly recommend this very short post by an ex-Muslim, a coloured woman born in South Africa, who remembers well the times of real Apartheid. Most of the post consist of recording of telephone talk of one of the murderers with his family members:

      1. Indeed. This is why I can’t find much solace in the idea that most ordinary people in Gaza “just want to get on with living”. Hatred of Jews is too deeply embedded in the culture.

    2. Here is a good piece in the NYT about the least bad course of action for Israel:

      TL;DR: The IDF tells Gazan civilians to move to the southern part of Gaza, then the IDF cuts Gaza in half and lays siege to the northern half. Civilians are safe-ish in the southern half and can be supplied with humanitarian aid. Hamas fighters in northern half have no one to fight, and they aren’t getting any supplies (minus whatever they can get in through the tunnels – that is a big problem the article doesn’t address; is there a way to cut off the tunnels without civilian casualties? Or flood the tunnels or something?) The article said something like, “The Hamas terrorists are spoiling for a fight, instead let them sit in their tunnels for a while with dwindling stocks of food and fuel.” Could it work?

  3. I think Hamas has to be destroyed for the good of everyone …

    I’m not in any way disagreeing with Israeli actions (they have no good options here), but they cannot destroy Hamas. Hamas is embodied in the attitudes of most of the population of Gaza, including most of the kids, teenage boys and young men, and so will live on. Israel can destroy Hamas infrastructure, such as their tunnel network (and that may well be their aim), but they cannot destroy Hamas.

    1. Yes, I’ve said that and agree. But still Hamas HAS to be destroyed if there is to be any peace between Palestine and Israel; that’s what I meant. And Bret Stephens’s suggestion is perhaps worth a try.

    2. Re “Hamas has to be destroyed for the good of everyone”, that’s pretty much how I felt about the IRA during the Troubles. But, since the GFA, I’ve changed my mind. Despite the fact that Gerry Adams is a murderous lying thug, I’m OK with seeing him lying his arse off about his murderous activities if it means that ordinary people get to live their lives free of fear.

  4. ” but from what I see, ordinary people in Gaza are much like people everywhere, with the same hopes and dreams, frailties, and all that, …”

    I can not see it the same way as you. In the last election held in Gaza, there were a number of parties, all but one of them devoted to the terrorist murder of Jews. That one party that sought peace got so few votes that it basically didn’t even register.

    People in Gaza (and in the disputed territories as well) are Arabs. Arabs have a mind set, an ethical culture that is very different from the Western mind. Israelis have been trying to make the Western world grok this for a hundred years and we still don’t get it. And this lack of understanding is the basis for decades of dreadful policy that still endures.

    Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and the disputed territories do not want peace – they have rejected peace proposals literally twenty times. They don’t really care about a second state, or about land disputes except for propaganda purposes. Within a week of Arafat signing the first Oslo Accord, he spoke publicly in Arabic that his Arab audience need not to worry, because his signing was a clever ruse, a Trojan horse, just another step in destroying Israel. Oslo, a peace treaty, was eventually met with the 2nd Intifada.

    I think that for the vast majority of Gazans, many of their hopes and dreams involve the destruction of Israel and the murder of its Jews. They keep telling us this with words and actions and it is time we listened.

    1. Re “Arabs have a mind set, an ethical culture that is very different from the Western mind.”

      Sorry, but that’s just ridiculously stupid. People are people.

      Re Arabs. I have a male friend who worked in Aleppo developing drought-resistant plants. And a female friend who went to visit him, and said she’d never been made to feel more welcome wherever she went. People are people.

      1. Yes people are people. That is why some indoctrinate others to hate a class of people, whether it is Jews or Blacks or Asians or Whites. That is more of the true story of humans than the false belief that everyone is essentially good and benevolent towards others.

      2. Maybe your friends were accepted because the locals wanted something from them and did not perceive them as threats.

      3. People may be people, but cultures are cultures. And “ethical cultures” do differ among nations. In many Arab countries, for example, women are denied equal rights and it’s illegal to be gay or even an atheist. Are you denying that all cultures practice the same ethics, or that people of different countries all believe and act the same way and hold the same morality?

        People may be basically the same WHEN BORN, but they are brought up under different cultures, and not all cultures are morally equal. If you were a women, would you rather live in France or in Afghanistan or Iran? If you were gay, would you rather live in Britain or in Palestine?

        1. I’ve been brooding about this.

          No, I’m not at all denying that some cultures are better than others. And, I’d deffo rather live in Britain than Palestine, gay or not.

          But, I’m old, and I spent several years of my childhood in Hong Kong, and at that time Communist China seemed like a totally alien place inhabited by people not like us. And, later, I grew up in England when, according to Reagan, the Russian “Evil Empire” wanted to conquer us all. And yet, even during the repression of the Soviet era, physicists from Cambridge and elsewhere went to the USSR and established warm relations with their counterparts. And, when I got to meet people who had grown up in Communist China, they turned out to be human too, and took the party line with a grain of salt, as something propagated by fanatics, but which had nothing to do with them.
          My favourite episode of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” is the one where he visits Iran, and, despite being American, is treated with quite enormous hospitality by ordinary people, while the zealots hover around.
          So, my feeling is that some cultures are pretty awful, but even in those cultures human kindness can find a way of flourishing.

          None of which excuses the murderous actions of Hamas.

    2. And, I’ll bite, how do you feel about the annexation of the occupied territories after the 1967 war? I’m in full support of the right of the State of Israel to exist within the 1967 borders, maybe beyond if Israel’s security demands it, but was it really necessary to rub the West Bank Palestinians noses in the settlements?

      1. “I’m in full support of the right of the State of Israel to exist within the 1967 borders …”

        Why not support the right of the state of Israel to exist within its 1948 borders?

        And, btw, there are no “1967 borders”. That was a ceasefire line, and the only thing the two sides (Israel and essentially Jordan) could agree on, and which they put in the text of the ceasefire agreement, was that in absolutely no way shape or form was the ceasefire line to be considered a border.

      2. Full support? What does that mean when it has the codicil attached about the pre-1967 borders? Israel controls the territory up to the cease-fire line of 1967. So that means you aren’t in full support of Israel’s existence according to the facts on the ground as they have existed for 56 years. You want to pressure Israel into being something less than it is today, regardless of whether that would be good for Israel. That means you aren’t in full support but are rather trying to undermine the state’s security.

        “Full support” for the pre-1967 borders means you would support your country sending its ground troops to keep the Arabs in the West Bank from invading Israel and trying to cut it in two. Which is what they would do, emboldened by Israel’s withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

        1. Again, let us not forget Israel did not start or provoke, apart from existing that is, the 1967 war. They finished it!

    3. It is telling that after an attack like the one on Hamas, Palestinians rejoice en masse and hand out sweets. I doubt that all of these celebrants, who include women and children, are terrorists, but they clearly hate Jews and celebrate their murders. It’s simply not the case that there are only two classes of people in Gaza: the terrorists and the peaceful people who have no beef with Jews!

  5. The Bennett-plan described in Bret Stephens article looks plausible, but will need a lot of time. Indeed it should be avoided to play by Hamas-rules.
    Naively I would augment the Bennett-plan with pumping 10-20cm sea-water into the tunnel system whenever the entrances are close to the sea. This would make the holdouts inhospitable & would corrode their equipment…

  6. Bennett’s “squeeze approach” is good, but it’s only a temporary solution. It’s faster -and cheaper- to offer $20,000 to every Palestinian to move to another Arab country. Israel will get the land, and every Palestinian will be able to buy a nice house and start a new life. This will allow Israel and the West to attack Hezbollah, and then Iran, which is unavoidable.

    1. 5 million Palestinians would cost $100 billion plus the cost of moving belongings and businesses. Who will fund the $200 billion? MBS? Iran?

    2. No other Arab country wants the Palestinians. You’d have to pay those countries a million dollars for each person in Gaza to take them. Plus the 20k to the individuals. Which Hamas would tax away. And the Arab countries harbouring the Palestinians would soon wish they had turned down the million bucks.

      1. I know nobody wants the Palestinians, but it’s different if they arrive with enough money to buy a house, cash. I bet people would see very differently the Nicaraguans if they crossed the border speaking perfect English and bringing $100,000 each, including newborns.

          1. $20,000 is $80,000 for a family of 4, or $120,000 for a family of six. In a wealthy Arab country, like Saudi Arabia, the average price for a 100 sq m property is about $100,000.

  7. Respectfully.
    The peace accord in NI did not happen because of “ a small miracle” it happened because the IRA finally lost much of its support particularly from the USA as a result of the remembrance parade bombing at Enniskillen in 1978.
    I have experience of NI from service in the RAF but not as a direct combatant.
    Hamas is now in a similar position to that of the IRA then with declining support from much of the Middle East because of this October outrage, the most Israelis killed since the holocaust plus rape and abduction of children, old people and others.
    Israel must press home this advantage however slight and utterly destroy Hamas.
    Gaza incidentally home to the Philistines prior to the renaming by the Greeks to Palestine.
    These are the people amongst many who despise our existence, who danced in the streets at 9-11.
    Palestine will suffer greatly.
    Israel and many Jews suffer greatly.
    Hosea 8.7 “For they have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind”

    1. That’s really good, David.
      (Using up my commenting budget but really, can’t let it go unremarked.)

    2. Nuclear weapons don’t change the impact of a reputation. Just ask North Korea or Pakistan.
      Even Russia style sanctions would have a massive impact on Israel.

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