Israel faces multi-front challenges amid internal discussions on war

Israel Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaking with commanders in northern Israel on May 1. (IDF)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on May 1, his office said in a statement. The discussions come as the IDF continues to prepare its forces for a potential operation in Rafah and as internal discussions among its commanders, security officials and war cabinet leave questions about timing of the next steps in Gaza.

Gallant has spoken often with Austin during the war, and Austin has been consistent on his support for Israel’s war effort. The May 1 call included a focus “on operational developments in the southern and northern arenas, as well as the shared commitment of both countries to ensuring the release of the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza,” Gallant’s office said. He also discussed ongoing operations in Gaza and how Israel is increasing humanitarian aid delivery.

Gallant has pushed for increased humanitarian aid as well as more crossings into Gaza, understanding that international pressure rapidly compounded on Israel in January and February as Gazans fled fighting and appeared to face famine, according to warnings from various international organizations. The increase in humanitarian aid has faced logistical hurdles, prompting Israel to re-open the Erez crossing on May 1.

“The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), opened the Erez Crossing of the Ministry of Defense’s Land Crossings Authority today (Wednesday), to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. As part of this effort, after careful security inspection, 30 trucks of humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies for the northern part of the Gaza Strip, arrived from Jordan and entered Gaza today,” the IDF said on May 1. Gallant told Austin these efforts, along with trucks arriving from Jordan and Cyprus in addition to other means, have doubled the number of aid trucks entering Gaza.

The Israeli Minister of Defense also raised continued concerns about Hezbollah’s daily attacks on Israel. Israel wants to return 50,000 residents to their homes in northern Israel, but the attacks have prevented this. “The parties also discussed Iranian threats to regional stability and to Israel’s security. Minister Gallant emphasized the importance of maintaining a united front and joint regional effort to counter Iran’s proxy attacks and nuclear ambitions,” Gallant’s office said.

Meanwhile, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi HaLevi journeyed to northern Israel to meet with soldiers and conduct a tour and situational assessment. He met with the Commanding Officer of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, and met the head of the 146th Division, Brig. Gen. Yisrael Shomer. He also met with commanders of the Etzioni Brigade, which was recently deployed to the north.

During his visit, Hezbollah launched two anti-tank missiles at the Israeli community of Shtula on the border. Israeli warplanes responded the next day with strikes on “terror infrastructures in the area of Chebaa. Additionally, a short while ago, IDF troops identified a terrorist operating in a Hezbollah military compound in the area of Markaba,” the IDF said. A Hezbollah attack on Israel’s north eventually followed by a proportional Israeli response has become commonplace.

These incidents occur amid reports in Israeli media of major rifts between the security establishment and the Prime Minister’s office over various policies in Gaza and in northern Israel. In addition, the Minister of Defense and Halevi announced the promotion of several commanders who have played a key role in the war against Hamas. They announced that “Brigadier General Dan Goldfus will be appointed as Commander of the Northern Corps and Head of the Maneuver Array in the Ground Forces. He will be promoted to the rank of Major General,” the IDF said. In addition “Brigadier General David (Dado) Bar Kalifa will be appointed as Head of the Manpower Directorate (J1). He will be promoted to the rank of Major General.”

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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