The Israel Defense Forces believes that in order to attain the objectives of the war against Hamas, laid out by government officials, the military must begin its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip sooner rather than later, The Times of Israel has learned.
Israel says its war on Hamas is aimed at destroying the terror group’s infrastructure, and has vowed to eliminate the entire organization.
After 16 days of airstrikes, the IDF has told the government that it is fully prepared for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and believes it can achieve the goals set out for it, even at the risk of heavy casualties to soldiers, and amid repeated attacks by Hezbollah in the north, The Times of Israel learned.
Should the army need to move its focus to the north instead of Gaza, it is confident that it could pivot within just a few days. The IDF has already heavily bolstered the Lebanon border, but most forces remain near Gaza ahead of the ground offensive.
Regarding the 222 confirmed hostages held by Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, the military is preparing for the possibility of rescue operations amid the ground offensive, according to information seen by The Times of Israel.
The military fears that further hostage releases by Hamas could lead the political leadership to delay a ground incursion or even halt it midway. On Friday night, Hamas released an American mother and daughter, which, according to reports, led to the ground offensive being postponed.
Still, the military believes that a ground offensive may actually pressure Hamas to release further hostages.
The military is looking to the government to make a decision soon regarding the ground offensive, as the forces stationed by the border can only remain in a heightened state of readiness for so long.
The Israeli Air Force has so far carried out strikes against more than 10,000 targets in Gaza belonging to Hamas and other terror groups, according to the information.
Strikes in recent days have focused on removing potential threats to ground forces, including sniper and missile positions.