The day after the world was rocked by imagery and video pouring out of Israel showing a highly coordinated, multi-domain, surprise assault by Hamas which left hundreds dead and scores of hostages, the region sits on edge. What is sure to be a massive ground operation into Gaza to eliminate Hamas as a functioning entity is being prepared and just how long it could last is anyone’s guess. At the same time, there are major fears that this conflict could spill out into a much wider one, with Hezbollah, and its massive Iranian-supplied arsenal, being of great worry. With all that being said, let’s get caught up on major developments.
Israel has declared a state of war, the first time since 1973 this has occurred.
After Hamas fighters made their way across the Gaza border, the hostages they took include non-Israelis, which brings a multi-national facet to this conflict. Other foreign nationals were likely killed, as well. The U.S. has now made it clear that American citizens are included in those that were captured.
We also know that a German national, Shani Louk, was captured, taken back to Gaza, paraded around, stripped, and shown unconscious and beaten in the back of pickup truck. She was one of a large number of victims that were attending a music festival not far from the Gaza border when Hamas raiders descended on them.
ABC News is reporting that the number killed at the festival is now over 260.
International hostages in Gaza means that foreign assistance will be offered to Israel to help recover them, but the situation just underlines how tough doing so is going to be. Such a large number of hostages, which is said to be in the hundreds, being held in a dense and very hostile urban center that is about to become a full-on war zone drastically complicates already very complicated hostage rescue operations.
The Pentagon has directed USS Gerald R. Ford and its strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean. It was decided to do so as a contingency in case Americans need to be evacuated, but also as a deterrence signal to the region. It brings a vast array of military capabilities right to the doorstep of this conflict. The Secretary of Defense also made it clear that the U.S. is sending munitions to Israel for what is clearly going to be a sustained operation.
When it comes to possible expansion of the current crisis, nowhere is being watched closer than Southern Lebanon where Hezbollah poses a huge threat. The Iranian backed militant group is sitting on a absolutely massive arsenal made up of increasingly capable weaponry — suicide drones, long-range rockets, and cruise missiles — as well as tens of thousands of artillery rockets. Its capabilities have metastasized to the point that if they were to fully activate, the damage they could do to Israeli population centers is of grave concern. Israel has the most advanced and deeply-layered integrated air defense system (IADS) on the planet, but it would be deeply overwhelmed if Hezbollah were to unleash in full force.
The Iranian aspect of Hezbollah would also point to the possible expansion of the conflict far beyond Israel and Southern Lebanon. Iran is already viewed as a critical facilitator and backer of the massive attack carried out by Hamas, with the elements of the group stating as much directly.
So far, Hezbollah has said it would enter the fight if Israel enters Gaza in force, yet yesterday, a single attack on an Israeli outpost did occur and Hezbollah claimed responsibility for it.
Short-range artillery was fired from a school that targeted a mountaintop Israeli installation along the border with Labanon. Whether this was a rogue actor that was operating outside of Hezbollah’s chain of command and the group just claimed it after the fact or if this was part of preparation for a much larger operation is not clear. The Israeli radar and listening installation would be a top target prior to a larger offensive, especially one that includes the firing of long-range missiles and drones, but it may have just been a target of opportunity for whoever fired at it.
There are also fears of a major influx of foreign fighters into the region who will attempt to bolster Hamas and other aligned groups’ war against Israel. The video below shows a unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force pledging to fight for Palestine.
How Hamas was able to execute a multi-pronged attack on such a scale without Israeli intelligence knowing about it remains a huge question that nobody seems to have an answer to. Gaza is one of the most highly surveilled pieces of land on the planet. Beyond the infiltration into Israeli territory, setting up and firing thousands of rockets within hours takes movement of materiel and broad coordination, none of which appeared to have been seen or at least elevated to an actionable level by Mossad.
IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari punched-home the claim that Hamas is now using a playbook similar to that of ISIS:
The use of commercially available drones turned into bomblet droppers in the attack on Israel is just another reminder of how this is the new reality of warfare, one that no military is prepared to confront.
Airstrikes have continued in Gaza. We will likely see this ramp up dramatically in the coming hours and days as new target sets are generated in preparation and then in support of a ground operation.
Israel has published videos claiming to show Hamas foot soldiers on the Gaza border being struck by AH-64 Apache helicopters:
The Israeli operation is called ”Swords of Iron” and the IAF says it has hit 150 targets with dozens of fighter aircraft in the “Shuja’iyya.” The official statement on the operation reads:
“Shuja’iyya is used as a “terror nest” for the Hamas terrorist organization. Many attacks against Israel originated in it, including during the recent invasion.
In parallel, terror infrastructure in the residence of Farah Hamed, a senior operative belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization, was targeted. The site was located adjacent to a mosque and three schools, which demonstrates that the Hamas terrorist organization takes advantage of holy sites and civilians to advance terror operations.”
Targeted operations against Hamas military leadership are also ongoing. The deputy commander of Hamas’s naval force was snatched by Israeli naval special operations forces. Intelligence extraction and rapid exploitation from key individuals would be of the top priority at this time.
Iron Dome remains highly active intercepting continuing barrages of Hamas artillery rockets:
The situation in Jarusalem also remains very tense:
We are also getting additional video of the battles that have taken place against Israeli security forces and Hamas gunmen that had taken up barricaded positions inside Israel.
In various places around the globe, demonstrations in support of both Israel and Hamas have occurred. In New York City, the two sides faced off in Times Square:
We will continue to update this post as more information comes available.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com