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Israel-Hamas war: Northern Gaza was destroyed – what will happen next?



Israel-Hamas war: Northern Gaza was destroyed – what will happen next?

Four cats walked back and forth under the tanks, armored personnel carriers, jeeps, and engineering vehicles across the street from Shifa Hospital in Gaza and meters from Hamas’s underground tunnel network.

I and a group of other Israeli journalists had been waiting about an hour for our pickup to return to Kibbutz Be’eri after visiting the Shifa Hospital and tunnel network area on Wednesday.  Our armored personnel carrier driver, Oren Rimon (an oleh from Los Angeles), said sometimes there is “traffic” because “there are a lot of armored fighting vehicles, tanks, and infantry. You will feel it during the trips.”

We only spoke to one Palestinian briefly and saw only one family, who said they were staying in a tent near the hospital to wait for and support a sick family member, so the cats were actually the most local contact we had.

They looked thirsty, hungry, beaten up, and dirtier than even the desolate, dust-filled, and smoke-filled Gaza City neighborhoods we had driven through.

A very tall and broad-shouldered special forces soldier was also eyeing the cats. He meticulously ripped a piece of a paper cup in half, filled it with water, and placed it under one of the armored vehicles where one of the cats was taking shelter.

THE WRITER, near Shifa Hospital in Gaza. (credit: YONAH JEREMY BOB)

I eventually figured out that he had torn the cup in half because otherwise it would have been too hard for the cat to reach its neck down to drink the water.

First, I thought about how thoughtful and careful the soldier had been for the cat. Then I thought about the “day after,” when the war is over (probably another month or so from now), and the other “day after,” when an expected Hamas insurgency might be put down and someone else will need to run Gaza, probably six months or years down the line beyond the end of the war. What will happen to the cat then?


ISRAEL AND the IDF have managed an impressive air campaign and ground invasion. At press time, around 75 IDF soldiers had been killed during the ground invasion of Gaza. While each life is a universe, from a cold military analytical perspective, that number is stunningly low.

The IDF controls almost all of northern Gaza other than the Shejaia neighborhood in Gaza City, portions of Jabalya and Zeitun, and a few smaller neighborhoods, and accomplished this in a period of weeks.

All key military and governance symbols of Hamas in the north, with Shifa Hospital being the most important and last to fall last week, are under IDF control.

Specifically, in Shifa around 40,000 civilians were evacuated without any deaths inside the hospital during the IDF’s incursion (though there are claims, which are hard to judge, that during the several days of the IDF siege on the complex, some dozens of patients died due to lack of electricity or harsher conditions).

Only 300 civilian patients and medical staff remain inside the hospital, unharmed and stable, while the IDF has managed to uncover significant aspects of Hamas’s underground tunnel network, which The Jerusalem Post viewed up close on Wednesday.

That half of the story, the powerful IDF vehicles surrounding Shifa and the IDF special forces soldier sensitively providing water to the local cats, is metaphorically analogous to the IDF seizing northern Gaza while trying to mitigate harm to Palestinian civilians.

But there is another half of the story of what will happen not only to the cat on the “day after,” but to all of Gaza and its 2.3 million civilians, and how that will affect Israel and the region.

Northern Gaza has been destroyed by the Israel-Hamas war

NORTHERN GAZA is destroyed. Not just a war zone, not just worn down – utterly destroyed.

The cat may not live long enough to see the “day after.”

Probably some number of Palestinian civilians will also not make it despite humanitarian aid.

Still, assuming the vast majority of Palestinian civilians make it, living off humanitarian aid, they will have nowhere to come back to.

From what the Post saw, it will not be a question of rebuilding houses on one side or the other side of the street as in past rounds. Whole neighborhoods will need to be reconstituted from scratch, or maybe worse, because any building that has not collapsed is probably not safe to maintain, and will probably need to be demolished before rebuilding can start.

Once rebuilding starts, it will need to start with relaying out entire neighborhoods with infrastructure and roads that regular cars, not just tanks and armored personnel carriers, can drive on.

Clearing the debris will be an enormous effort.

It will be years before large numbers of Palestinians can return to live in northern Gaza, and that is assuming the expected insurgency leads mostly to “only” gunfights, and does not lead to additional large-scale destruction. If it does, then even initial rebuilding phases could be delayed deep into 2024 or later.

This article does not delve into whether the extent of the destruction by the IDF of northern Gaza was necessary or not.

In the meantime, the IDF has put out select snapshots of individual battles and the general vague picture that Hamas booby-trapped an unprecedented number of houses and civilian locations – way beyond even what it had done in past conflicts – and that this left the IDF no choice.

This in addition to Hamas having fired rockets and anti-tank missiles, and having directed gunfire from civilian locations, which gave the IDF the right to return fire, including whatever damage might be caused to the location, provided the IDF did its best to avoid civilian casualties.

But making a full judgment on that issue will need to wait until after the war, when the IDF produces far more specific and comprehensive data on its attacks.

THE BIG question here is what happens next? How can there be a “day after” and how can anyone or any entity start managing Gaza if it may take five years to get Palestinian civilians out of refugee camps and into areas of northern Gaza where they used to live?

Isn’t it likely that any insurgency will be worse, and many new Gazans will join Hamas, if they have no work, school, or regular living conditions – with nothing to do and a lot of anger at their situation?

Coming back to the fact that we saw almost zero Palestinians, this brings into the forefront that around 200 Hamas terrorists escaped Shifa.

The Post saw the extensive tunnel network firsthand, and this was not a tunnel network for a couple dozens of fighters, but likely hundreds, including some senior commanders with first-rate (for a tunnel) quarters, as the IDF has asserted.

Ongoing statements by multiple senior IDF officials suggest that the IDF either actively or passively allowed them to escape in order to avoid a firefight within Shifa and the dead doctors and patients that could have led to, not to mention IDF losses.

This same strategy was repeated in many other sensitive civilian locations, including, it seems, allowing Hamas to smuggle many Israeli hostages to southern Gaza.

Again, putting aside the question of the wisdom of that strategy, it seems that one of the consequences has been that the IDF to date has still not managed to kill or arrest more than 30% of Hamas’s 30,000 fighters, and probably less (without counting a possible additional 10,000 for Islamic Jihad).

Returning to a distant “day after,” when Israel will pull its forces out of Gaza (it has said it would, even if it maintains some security imperatives for hot pursuit of terrorists into Gaza), the Post saw how easily and quickly the prized border obstacles and fences could be breached while being driven through it.

In one spot or another, a much larger troop presence will need to be placed permanently on that border so that Israel can stop any future surprise attack, even if its technologies are fooled. This will change the social contract in Israeli society, with adolescents expected to serve in larger numbers and for longer periods of time.

Visiting Shifa and driving through destroyed northern Gaza was eye-opening. But even as the visit confirmed IDF supremacy on the ground for now, it raised many more dramatic questions than it gave answers about the future. •

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Watch: IDF, security forces arrest explosive-wielding terrorists in intense West Bank operation




Watch: IDF, security forces arrest explosive-wielding terrorists in intense West Bank operation

The IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), and Border Police operated throughout Saturday evening and arrested eight wanted individuals in the West Bank, the IDF announced Sunday. 

Soldiers shot at a terrorist who threw an explosive device at them in Nablus, and interrogated suspects, finding weapons. 

In the village of Rujeib, near Nablus, soldiers arrested a wanted man and confiscated a gun and other weapons. 

During these operations, soldiers surrounded a building and arrested an additional two wanted persons, and confiscated weapons and destroyed an explosive device found in the area. 

Israeli forces arrest suspects implicated in terror activities 

In Beit Rima and Kafr Nima, near Ramallah, soldiers arrested two suspects implicated in terrorist activities. 

IDF soldiers operate in the West Bank overnight, June 16, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

In al-Khader, two wanted men were arrested, and in Idna, soldiers arrested another wanted man. 

The wanted persons who were arrested had their weapons confiscated and were transferred to security forces for further investigation. 

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, approximately 4,150 wanted persons have been arrested throughout the West Bank, and approximately 1,750 are associated with terror organization Hamas. 

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US officials worry Israel will drag America into war against Hezbollah – CBS




US officials worry Israel will drag America into war against Hezbollah – CBS

The Biden administration has become increasingly concerned that the increasing conflict and rocket exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah could expand through the region, anonymous US officials told CBS News on Friday.

An official said that the administration had been working toward lowering the risk that US troops face in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan. 

Additionally, diplomatic advisor Amos Hochstein is heading to Israel on Monday with the reported purpose of trying to de-escalate tensions before they spread throughout the region.

IAF strikes deeper into Lebanon

Some of the US officials told CBS that they interpreted the deepening IDF strikes in Lebanese territory as a preparatory measure for a sweeping assault. This, the officials worry, could start a war with Lebanon that Israel would require US support to win.  

Other officials told CBS they were concerned that, in response to the deepening strikes, Hezbollah would escalate attacks, resulting in an unintended war.

Smoke is seen following rockets that were fired towards Israel from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, June 1, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/Avi Ohayon)

The rocket exchanges on the northern border are also creating new barriers in pushing for a hostage-ceasefire deal, the CBS report added.

A senior Biden administration official said, “The most important thing about the hostage release and ceasefire deal that’s on the table now is that if it’s achieved, it can have an impact in the north [of Israel], so that is an opportunity for us to be able to bring this conflict to a full close.”

“There has to be an agreement that allows Israelis to return to their homes in the North with security guarantees that it is not Oct. 6 of Hezbollah … sitting right on the blue line,” the official added.

Inflaming tensions 

After senior Hezbollah official Sami Taleb Abdullah was eliminated in a strike, Hezbollah increased its rocket attacks against Israel. Approximately 250 rockets were launched on Wednesday towards northern Israel, disrupting civilians trying to partake in the holiday of Shavuot. 

Abdullah is the most senior member of Hezbollah to be eliminated since October 7.

“The powerful elimination worries Hezbollah members. They now understand that the IDF knows much more about them than we do. Additionally, the operation indicates that Hezbollah’s field security is not airtight and that the organization’s intelligence system has been penetrated to such an extent that we were able to eliminate such an important sector commander. The IDF managed to infiltrate their networks and systems and identify the right people for elimination,” said Professor Amatzia Baram, suggesting that this also impacts the leader of the terrorist organization.

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Israel must target civilian infrastructure in Lebanon to pressure Hezbollah, IDSF head says




Israel must target civilian infrastructure in Lebanon to pressure Hezbollah, IDSF head says

Israel Defense and Security Forum CEO Lt. Col. (res.) Yaron Buskila spoke recently with Yoav Minitz on Radio North 104.5FM and referred to the future of the conflict with the terrorist organization Hezbollah on the northern border.

Buskila stated, “The North is facing the issue of UAVs, which seems like a kind of Russian roulette. How can the security system deal with this.

“To explain why occasionally there are no sirens, Hezbollah learned to operate with UAVs at a low altitude close to the ground. Because of this, the UAV is not identified, and Hezbollah manages to operate them and attack before the Israeli detection and identification system operates. This has become a challenge for us, but we continue to face Hezbollah as we have in recent years in a symmetrical manner. For every attack they launch at us, we retaliate proportionally.

“This is not how to deal with a terror organization, certainly not at this stage. Hezbollah understands that we are in negotiations over the hostages, and they want to pressure the State of Israel. We must not play into their hands. This is exactly the time to take action against Hezbollah and Lebanon as a country and attack civilian infrastructures. Hezbollah is also subject to social and public pressure within Lebanon.”

Which infrastructures and targets are worth it for Israel to attack? 

“If we do not know how to attack such civilian infrastructures that the Lebanese society will put pressure on Hezbollah, we will not come out of this. We needed to escalate matters long ago. The economic interest they had with the gas agreement needs to be canceled immediately and transferred to our hands as one of the first steps in response to Hezbollah’s activities. The economy in Lebanon is so fragile that the last thing they need is escalation and entry into a war from Israel, which will destroy the Lebanese economy.

A Hezbollah flag flutters in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, near the border with Israel, Lebanon July 28, 2020 (credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER)

Buskila continued, “We are at war. Any target within Lebanon that causes pressure on Lebanese society is legitimate. It could be an airport, energy areas, and others. These are part of the steps taken in war, and we are at war. We are in a fateful year that will determine the future of the State of Israel in terms of security in the next 50 years. The sharper this war becomes and the more significant the achievements, the more peace we will acquire in the coming years.”

“The State of Israel and the security system are afraid to carry out attacks for fear that Hezbollah may achieve long-range targets, farther than Haifa and Hadera. As Ofer Shelah wrote in his book, The Courage to Win, even winning requires courage. It also requires the ability to absorb, but ultimately, whoever has endurance and ability and knows his right is the one who wins.”

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