IDF chief: Army ready for Gaza incursion, delayed by ‘tactical, strategic’ factors; Oct. 7 changed our reality

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a briefing on October 24, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/ Times of Israel)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi says that the Hamas terror group “regrets” launching a war against Israel, and admits that a ground offensive is being delayed by “strategic considerations.”

“Israel is in the midst of a war that was launched by the Hamas terror group. It already regrets it,” he says in a press conference near the Gaza border.

“We’ve prepared for this. The IDF and the Southern Command have prepared quality offensive plans to achieve the goals of the war,” he says. “The IDF is ready for the [ground] maneuver, and we will make a decision with the political echelon regarding the shape and timing of the next stage,” Halevi says.

He says that there are “tactical and even strategic considerations” delaying the ground offensive, but they enable the IDF to better prepare.

“We are making use of every minute to be even more prepared,” he says. “And every minute that passes on the other side, we strike the enemy even more. Killing terrorists, destroying infrastructure, collecting more intelligence for the next stage,” he adds.

Says Halevi: “This is our state, our house, and we will defend it by every means.

“What happened [on October 7, with Hamas’s slaughter of 1,400 people in Israel] is unprecedented since the founding of the state. It will require a fundamental change in our security reality. There will be a cost to that, including as regards the length of the war.

“This war has one address: The Hamas leadership and all those who acted under its command. They will pay the price for what they did,” he says.

He says no one should doubt Hamas’s cruelty and barbarism. “We recommend that Hamas treat the Israeli citizens it holds hostage with respect.” This is “essential,” he says, but bears no relationship to the “gravity of the treatment” the IDF will mete out to Hamas. There is nothing that can atone in any way, he says, for what Hamas did on October 7, “and since then, to every one of the hostages, the killed, and their families.”

“The IDF is fighting Hamas, it is not fighting Gaza’s populace. The IDF wants the residents of Gaza to come through this war as unharmed as possible,” he says, hence Israel’s urging of residents to evacuate to safe areas, where they will find food, water and medicine. “Every resident of Gaza should take the responsible decision [to evacuate] for the sake of their lives.”

Where fuel is needed by civilians, Israel will ensure it is available. “We will not allow fuel for Hamas, with which it can continue to fight Israel.”

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