The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has suggested that the long-anticipated ground offensive in Gaza might not actually happen, according to IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht. While the military is preparing for the next phase of its operation, it has not disclosed what this entails.
Hecht spoke to journalists during a briefing, saying, “We are preparing for the next stages of war. We haven’t said what they will be. Everybody’s talking about the ground offensive. It might be something different,” without providing further details.
This statement comes amid the escalating conflict between Israeli forces and the Gaza-based militant group Hamas. On October 7, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, leading to the firing of thousands of rockets into Israeli territory and a brief infiltration of settlements near Gaza. The clashes between Hamas and the IDF have resulted in over 1,400 Israeli deaths, mostly civilians, according to authorities. In response, Israel has conducted a massive bombing campaign in Gaza, leading to over 2,800 deaths in the enclave, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Israel has mobilized approximately 360,000 reservists as part of its efforts and has deployed significant forces, including tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery pieces, to the southern border with Gaza. Previous announcements from the military suggested that a ground offensive was on the horizon, with plans to expand the offensive and conduct an extensive ground operation.
The potential ground operation has raised concerns internationally. Both the African Union and the Arab League have called on Israel to cease hostilities, warning that a ground offensive could result in an unprecedented genocide. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also expressed concerns about the potential operation, describing it as a difficult issue with serious consequences for all sides. He emphasized that civilian casualties would be unacceptable.
The United States, a key ally of Israel, has cautioned against launching a ground campaign. US President Joe Biden has stated that eliminating extremists is a necessary requirement for ensuring the security of Israel. However, he has also warned that an Israeli occupation of Gaza would be a big mistake.
President Biden is scheduled to visit Israel and Jordan on Wednesday, according to the White House. Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine has reported that an Israeli offensive could be launched after Biden’s visit.
As tensions continue to escalate, the world is closely watching the situation in Gaza. The possibility of a ground offensive hangs in the air, but the IDF’s recent comments suggest that the next stages of the operation may unfold differently than anticipated.