Israel steps up raids, accuses Hamas of using hospital for cover

Israel has stepped up military raids into Gaza in the last two days. It began with the first large raid on Wednesday night and a second raid overnight between Thursday and Friday. The Oct. 27 strike included ground forces, planes and UAVs. The IDF said that it had conducted this “targeted raid in the central Gaza Strip. As part of the activity, IDF aircraft and artillery struck terror targets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in the Shuja’iyya area and throughout the Gaza Strip.”

At the same time as the ground raid took place, the IDF sent its elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 to conduct a strike from the sea in the southern Gaza Strip. This raid targeted Hamas infrastructure and “naval commando forces.” Hamas has used naval commandos to try to infiltrate Israel near Zikim, a border community just north of the Gaza Strip. There have been several incidents during and after the Oct. 7 attack involving Hamas trying to attack Israel from the

These raids appear to be part of a new pattern of operations. Israel has called up 300,000 soldiers and sent them to areas in the north and south, so as to be able to counter a multi-front conflict if Hezbollah intervenes. Now Israel is concentrating on ground operations in Gaza. However, it has not launched the expected larger ground maneuver.

Israel’s Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant addressed this issue on Thursday evening. He said that Israel is carrying out strikes in Gaza and “creating the necessary conditions to continue this campaign –
there will be additional stages. We are preparing them and we will conduct them. I am determined to lead us to victory.”

He characterized the upcoming battle as existential, saying it is either “us or them” and “what happens in the next 75 years heavily depends on our achievements in this war.” Gallant and the IDF in general continue to say Israel’s goal is to also return the 224 hostages Hamas is holding.

On Friday IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari showcased intelligence materials Israel has gathered which indicate Hamas is using the Shifa hospital in Gaza as a command center. Hamas has long been accused of using this hospital. In the 2009 conflict between Israel and Hamas the terrorist group was already suspected of using the hospital. Further evidence has come out in the last decade and a

Hagari said in his press conference that the hospital is the largest in Gaza with 1,500 beds and thousands of staff. This presents a challenge for Israel’s operations and Hagari said Israel has shared the information about Hamas using the hospital with other countries.

Hamas rocket fire has been reduced in the last days. The group appears to only carry out one large barrage a day. Nevertheless the rockets continue to impact civilian areas. A building in Tel Aviv was struck on Friday and several people were injured. In northern Israel, Hezbollah attacks have also tapered off. On Friday there was a shooting toward an IDF post and a number of rocket launches were identified, but they overflew Israel and landed in Syria, the IDF said.

This fits a broader pattern in the region in which the conflict has wider implications. On Thursday Israel said an “aerial threat” was detected over the Red Sea and it impacted in Egypt. The full details of the incident are not clear but in the past the Houthis have tried to target Israel from Yemen. In addition the U.S.-carried out airstrikes in Syria after more than a dozen attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

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