Above photo: EPN/Newscom/Avalon.
Army and government leaders spar over when to send ground forces into Gaza.
Half of the Israeli population say they want to hold off on any invasion.
Israeli army leaders are at odds with government officials over “how, when, and even whether to” launch a much-anticipated ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, multiple US and Israeli officials revealed to the New York Times (NYT).
Although army leaders have for days said their troops are ready to enter the besieged coastal enclave, government officials are concerned that the invasion “might suck the Israeli Army into an intractable urban battle” and open a “broader conflict” with Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon.
“There is also debate over whether to conduct the invasion through one large operation or a series of smaller ones. And then there are questions about who would govern Gaza if Israel captured it,” the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.
Blame for the delay is mainly placed on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who “angered senior officers” by refusing to give the go-ahead. The embattled premier reportedly wants “unanimous approval from members of the war cabinet” to avoid being blamed for another security failure when his popularity is already plummeting.
Tel Aviv announced imminent plans to send ground forces into Gaza the day after Palestinian resistance factions launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, but three weeks later, the Netanyahu government has yet to give the green light.
The delay is also an outcome of marathon meetings held with senior US officials last week, who reportedly expressed their trepidation over the Israeli army’s ability and readiness to successfully “eradicate” Hamas. As such, western media has revealed that US planners are heavily involved in devising the Israeli strategy to enter Gaza.
Although Tel Aviv has held back from giving the go-ahead to hundreds of thousands of troops stationed near the Gaza border, over the past two nights, Israeli and US special forces have launched “limited incursions” into the besieged enclave in preparation for “the next stages of fighting.”
These have come as Israeli jets continue to indiscriminately bomb the world’s largest concentration camp, killing over 7,000 Palestinians – including 3,000 children.
As the war enters its 20th day, support from the country’s population has begun to turn, with at least 49 percent of Israelis saying they want the government to hold off on any invasion of Gaza, according to an opinion poll published by Hebrew daily Maariv on 27 October.
This starkly differs from a survey published on 19 October, in which 65 percent of Israelis said they fully supported a ground invasion.