Israel appears to have delayed a ground invasion of Gaza that was expected as early as Friday, and speculation is mounting as to why.
Last Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a warning to civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate south, giving them 24 hours to do so (though a spokesman later said that the IDF understood that the evacuation might take several days). But since then, while massing troops on the border, the IDF has not invaded Gaza, except in sporadic attacks to conduct reconnaissance.
One reason is Lebanon. Iran’s proxy terrorist army, Hezbollah, has been firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli posts on the border sporadically, and commandos have been trying to breach the Israeli border at various points. Israel has maintained a policy of firing back, but only at the positions from which they were attacked, not at broader Hezbollah targets. If Hezbollah were to go to war, as Iran has threatened, Israel would be fighting a war on two fronts. So it has been taking time to prepare for that outcome.
Another reason is international concern for humanitarian conditions in Gaza. In previous conflicts, Israel’s most formidable enemy has been global public opinion, which has infinite patience for Israeli civilian casualties but none at all for Palestinian civilian casualties. Though Israel is committed to destroying Hamas regardless of criticism from the outside world, it also needs to preserve its fragile relations with its new Arab allies, as well as the goodwill of friends in the West, especially the United States.
That leads to the next possible reason: fear that a rapid, intense invasion might alienate the Biden administration. Though President Joe Biden has been very supportive since the Oct 7. terror attacks, his administration’s policy toward Israel was decidedly cool for two-and-a-half years. There is speculation — which the U.S. has denied — that Israel will hold off on a big ground invasion until Biden’s expected visit on Wednesday, Oct. 18, is over and the president is again safely out of the way.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.