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What are Israel’s strategic military goals with its latest pull back from Gaza?

Hamas vs Israel
Even the Arabs recognize these facts.
Courtesy of Doug Ross.

Over the weekend numerous news reports announced that Israel had suddenly pulled almost all its troops out of the Gaza strip, apparently abandoning its plan to finish off the last four battalions of Hamas that were hiding out in the southern town of Rafah.

Despite denials by Israel’s military and the Netanyahu government, on the surface it appeared Israel had bowed to pressure from the Biden administration to cancel its invasion of Rafah and instead break off its military offense against Hamas.

I suspect things are much more complicated, and could instead be — as some Israel officials claimed — a tactical maneuver intended to make that military invasion of Rafah more effective while reducing the large number of civilian deaths anticipated because of the more than a million Gazan refugees that have been crammed into that southern city.

The nature of the withdrawal reveals much about its goal:

The Israel Defense Forces withdrew all of its maneuvering ground forces from the Gaza Strip early Sunday morning, leaving just one brigade to secure a corridor splitting the Palestinian enclave.

Troops of the 98th Division were pulled out of the Khan Younis area after four straight months of fighting, the IDF said. Only one brigade, Nahal, remains in the Gaza Strip. The Nahal Brigade has been tasked with securing the so-called Netzarim Corridor, which crosses Gaza from the Be’eri area in southern Israel to the Strip’s coast.

Immediately there were reports of Gaza civilians crossing that corridor to return to the town of Khan Yunis to the north. Not surprisingly, within hours of Israel’s withdrawal it appears some Hamas fighters had also slipped through, found some hidden rockets, and fired four missiles into Israel:

Terrorists in Khan Yunis fired four rockets towards towns in Israel’s Eshkol region, hours after the IDF withdrew from the Gazan city. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted two of the rockets.

While this missile attack once again proves that Hamas will never negotiate, and still sticks to its goal of killing all the Jews worldwide, it was generally an ineffective attack. More important, Israeli forces could immediately use it to locate those escaped terrorists and eliminate them. Though there have been no reports as yet of any military response by Israel, there is no doubt there was one, as the withdrawal did little to prevent Israel’s maneuverability throughout the bulk of Gaza that it has conquered.

So why did Israel withdraw as it did? The immediate arrival of civilians from Rafah into Khan Yunis tells us the goal. An invasion of Rafah with more than a million civilians could only be bloody beyond belief and very difficult. Hamas would certainly use those civilians as shields, which would also give Hamas exactly what it wants, a great photo op to claim Israel is committing genocide in its war to eliminate Hamas completely.

Instead, Israel is now establishing a framework for slowly siphoning those civilians out of Rafah, under its watchful eye. While it cannot guarantee that it will keep Hamas soldiers from escaping (the missile attack proves this), it can keep most pinned in Rafah while it gets most of the civilians out.

Israel can then begin helping those civilians rebuild the northern parts of Gaza. This action will make it harder for the pro-Hamas anti-Semites worldwide to claim it is waging a genocidal war. They will anyway but their lies will be much more evident. More important, this action will instigate that post-war rebuilding process, under Israeli supervision, as quickly as possible. This action will help undercut the Democratic Party’s opposition to Israel’s war. Once again, they will oppose it anyway, but politically that opposition will carry very little weight.

At the same time, Israel will be able proceed with its invasion of Rafah much more effectively and with less collateral damage, having reduced the civilian population there significantly.

The first child hostage, 9-year-old Ohad Mundar, being released by Hamas
The first child hostage, 9-year-old Ohad Mundar,
being released by Hamas in November. Click for video.

This is my hopeful guess as to Israel’s strategy. It makes sense, as it serves the politics both in Isreal and the United States. In Israel almost everyone is 100% behind Netanyahu’s demand for total victory. If he backs off from this it will result in an enormous political backlash. Netanyahu and the IDF need to find a way to finish this war, and to do it as cleanly and as quickly as possible. More than a hundred of its own hostages remain in Hamas’ hands, and will likely die in that offensive, but the Israeli population accepted the possibility of that sacrifice months ago in order to guarantee a victory.

In the U.S. this strategy will help the Biden administration rationalize the war with its anti-Semitic voting blocs, both on the left and within the Muslim communities. We all know these Jew-haters will still oppose Israel and support Hamas, but among the general population, Biden’s support of Israel will be politically more secure.

Then again, I am guessing, and I could be guessing wrong. If the withdrawal is instead a sign that the Israel it has bowed to Biden and abandoned its offensive, then that offensive will have been entirely in vain, because it will have failed in its primary goal of eliminating Hamas from the face of the Earth so it could never again commit another brutal massacre like the one that occurred on October 7th. Hamas will still control part of Gaza, will regroup, and will once again attempt future genocidal attacks.

Remember, in this conflict the only side in favor of genocide is Hamas. It wants to murder every non-Muslim worldwide. Israel simply wants to live in peace with others.

Let us all hope my guess is right. If I am wrong, it will be another sign that western civilization is dead, and that the barbarians now rule.

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  • pzatchok

    For every 5 tons of supplies sent in 5 tons of people should be trucked out of Gaza. Ship them all out of Gaza and reclaim it for Israel.

    Anyone who does not want to leave and hides can be considered Hamas fighters.

  • pzatchok

    Israel is a land in a continual civil war. Constantly asking for the winners to leave the losers alive and self governing is just pushing the inevitable total war back.

    How long do you think it will be before Iran sends a nuke into Gaza and lets Hamas set it off in Israel? They do not need a missile or plane to deliver it. They just need a tunnel or truck.

    All the Arab nations of the middle east use the Palestinian people as self replication fighters. Just supply food, guns and propaganda.

    The UN is a body of mostly non democratic republics, a gang of dictators in one form or another.
    Why does the rest of the free world have to even care what they say let alone finance them.

  • Gary H

    There is no acceptable remedy to the genocidal hatred of Jews and the Jewish state. No government has been willing to take in the Palestinians and to be clear, the Palestinians supported Hamas for years. So, regardless of the plan, there is no solution without Jordan, or Egypt stepping forward and they have and will continue to refuse to do so.

  • Robert

    Why not flood the tunnels? There was talk of doing that. But why don’t they just flood all the tunnels. Also, make half of their bullets hollow, and fill them with hog blood, or hog fat.

  • Jeff Wright

    I think the pull back might be a part of intelligence gathering…seeing who sneaks back.

  • MDN

    I concur with Jeff. I would bet that Israel set up a network of well concealed cameras (daylight and IR) to monitor for armed individuals and matches to facial recognition to track where and how move about in their absense (and to supplement their facial recognition database for future use as well). And I would expect this surveillance will act as a high definition Close Up system to supplement something like a Gorgan Stare class system monitoring the overall region from above.

    The US learned A LOT in our efforts at waging urban gorilla warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and I am certain Israel was paying VERY close attention.

  • pzatchok


    As for flooding the tunnels.
    Its a possibility and would work for making the tunnels unusable. But you risk killing any hostages left alive being held in the tunnels and you will end up killing thousands of innocent Palestinians who are forced by Hamas to “hide” down there. And Hamas will force them down into the tunnels as soon as they see them being filled.

    No other nation wants the Palestinians except the US. We are just stupid. The last time Palestinians were allowed into Egypt they, Hamas, ( Muslim brotherhood)tried to take over the country during that great Arab Spring.
    Since then no Palestinians.

    So the last place for them is the West bank with Hezbollah. Their political enemies.

  • Cloudy

    This may not be due to politics. Israel cannot sustain the mobilized army needed to fight this war for a long period of time. When Israel fully mobilizes, it has an army larger than that of a country 20 times its size. That is not sustainable. Israel can do long super low intensity conflicts. It can do a short, intense fight for survival. It can do raids. But that’s about it. This is not Israel’s fault, it is just reality. Once survival is assured, they quit. Not because the want to, but because the have to. A quick look at the map and at the demographic stats will tell you why.

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