Author Archives: Seth Frantzman

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. 

Israel confronts continued Hezbollah drone threats

Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups continue to use drones in attacks on Israel. Hezbollah appears to have increased its use of drones in recent weeks, using them as often or more often than rockets or missiles. Israel’s Chief of Staff traveled to northern Israel to meet with officers as part of a reserve brigade drill.

Complexity of delivering aid continues in Gaza

Humanitarian aid continues to enter Gaza via several crossings as the IDF expands operations in Rafah and Jabalya. The IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said 451 humanitarian aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing and the Erez West Crossing on May 21. In addition, 12 trucks arrived by sea to the new US-built pier.

Israel’s Defense Minister Calls for Gaza Plan

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reach a decision regarding the future of Gaza. “As long as Hamas retains control over civilian life in Gaza, it may rebuild and strengthen, thus requiring the IDF to return and fight, in areas where it has already operated,” he said. He also noted the challenges Israel faces on multiple fronts as two drones were downed by IDF warplanes overnight between May 14 and 15 and with Hezbollah launching more than 60 rockets at Israel.

Israel Opens Another Crossing for Aid to Enter Northern Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces opened a new crossing for aid to enter into Gaza. The crossing is called the Western Erez crossing, and it is near the coast in the area of Zikim in Israel. It enables aid to reach northwestern Gaza in addition to two other crossings that now serve northern Gaza. Meanwhile in southern Gaza, the Rafah crossing remains closed, leading to concerns about aid entering southern Gaza.

IDF’s new three-pronged Gaza offensive takes shape

The Israel Defense Forces are now operating in three areas of Gaza in a multi-pronged offensive against Hamas and other terrorist groups. The new phase of operations began on May 6 when Israel began operating in eastern Rafah. This developed into a second operation in northern Gaza on May 9 and an operation in Jabalya on May 12. Jabalya and Zaytun are in northern Gaza, and have been cleared of Hamas in the past, illustrating how quickly Hamas has returned to areas previously cleared by the IDF.

Israel’s Rafah operation met with US warning of munitions pause

The Israel Defense Forces continued operations in eastern Rafah on May 9, eliminating up to 50 terrorists and uncovering ten tunnel shafts. Meanwhile, Israel’s military and political leadership reacted to comments from President Biden about the potential for pausing more munitions deliveries if Israel expands into the rest of Rafah. In Zaytun in northern Gaza, the IDF carried out its third raid in six months of ground maneuver.

Israel’s Defense Minister visits north amid Hezbollah attacks

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited the IDF’s 91st division in northern Israel on May 8, where he met with the commander of the division responsible for defending the Lebanon border and vowed that Israel would return evacuated civilians to their communities along the northern border. The IDF evacuated 80,000 Israelis from the north in October 2023 due to Hezbollah attacks, and approximately 50,000 remain evacuated.

IDF tanks take Rafah crossing, forces target eastern Rafah

Israeli tanks took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt on May 7, 2024. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited IDF artillery supporting the operation and said Israel was still open to a compromise with Hamas, but that Israel would intensify operations if Hamas did not make a hostage deal. Hezbollah and Iraqi militias escalated attacks on Israel as the IDF operation in Rafah began.

IDF asks Gazans to evacuate eastern Rafah ahead of offensive

The Israel Defense Forces called for the evacuation of around 100,000 civilians in eastern Rafah to a designated humanitarian zone near Khan Younis. These efforts to keep civilians safe from possible fighting occur as Israel has reiterated a months-long vow to launch an operation into Rafah where an estimated four Hamas battalions remain.

Israel faces rocket fire on two fronts

Hamas fired ten projectiles at Kerem Shalom in Israel near the Egyptian border on May 5. Hamas took credit for the attack and claimed it targeted IDF troops. In addition, Hezbollah fired dozens of projectiles at communities in northern Israel. Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also visited Gaza on May 5, where he vowed that Israel would continue with its planned Rafah operation.

Israel faces multi-front challenges amid internal discussions on war

Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the evening of May 1. Israel’s Chief of Staff went to northern Israel to meet commanders on the northern front facing Hezbollah. Israel announced several wartime promotions for commanders amid ongoing political discussions surrounding the Rafah offensive.

IDF combat unit recruitment attracts record number of Israeli men and women

Israel Defense Forces recruitment data for March and April 2024 showed high levels of men and women seeking enlistment to combat roles. Women sought out positions in the artillery and border protection units in numbers almost double those sought and expected. Men also sought recruitment to a variety of infantry units at higher than expected numbers, continuing a trend that began after the Hamas attack on October 7.

Two IDF Divisions prepare for next phase in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces said on April 30 that two of its divisions are prepared for the next phase of combat in Gaza. The two divisions played a key role in battles in Gaza between October 2023 and March 2024. The IDF’s statement follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that Israel will proceed with an offensive into Rafah in southern Gaza.

IDF Focuses on Humanitarian Aid in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces are focused on facilitating humanitarian aid entering northern Gaza as well as on receiving aid that will arrive via the US-built temporary floating pier off the coast of Gaza. The IDF’s 99th division also began operating to secure the Netzerim corridor in Gaza, a key element of protecting the aid that may arrive whether by land or by sea.

IDF rotates units in central Gaza as Rafah operation looms

Israel redeployed its Nahal brigade from Gaza, replacing it with two reserve brigades that have been undergoing training. The movement comes as the IDF continues to carry out numerous daily airstrikes in Gaza and as Hamas seeks to increase its presence in northern Gaza. Additionally, Hamas released a hostage video of Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin.

Hezbollah Targets Israeli Coast with Drone attack

Hezbollah carried out a drone attack on northern Israel, setting off sirens along twenty miles of Israeli coastline. The Israel Defense Forces said air defenses were activated to intercept the threats. Hezbollah said they had carried out the attack in response to the IDF killing a commander in Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit.

Israel prepares for potential escalation at its northern border amid Iran tensions

An IDF military division conducted a training exercise to prepare for a potential conflict in the north. The 91st division, which is responsible for the northern border of Israel, led the drill that ended on April 15 with the division commander then meeting with the heads of local communities. On April 19, reports said Israel carried out an airstrike near Isfahan inside Iran.

Israel contends with rocket fire, pushes more aid to Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces carried out strikes on 25 targets in Gaza over the course of April 18 and 19. In addition, the IDF launched more operations to secure a corridor of control across Gaza south of Gaza City. The IDF said it had eliminated more than 1,000 terrorists in recent raids. Humanitarian aid transfers by trucks are increasing in southern and northern Gaza.

Between Iran and Rafah, IDF considers next steps

The Chief of Staff for the Israel Defense Forces spoke to Israeli air force personnel at the Nevatim base in southern Israel on April 15, praising them for their defense against the attack by Iran. Israel is considering its options for responding to the Iranian attack. In addition, Israel’s Minister of Defense held discussions about upcoming operations in Rafah.

Israel’s Defense Minister details new humanitarian focus in Gaza

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant noted Israel’s challenges in Gaza on the humanitarian front, saying that aid has increased in phases and he supports increasing the amount of aid and number of crossings into Gaza for the aid. In addition, he praised the US-Israel relationship and discussed how Hamas has ceased to exist as a military organization in many parts of Gaza.

IDF trains to confront threats from Hezbollah

The Israel Defense Forces conducted a training in the north that brought together an IDF division, police, search and rescue, navy and air force units. It focused on “multi-branch and multi-organizational cooperation.” In addition, Israel’s Minister of Defense spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

IDF ends operations in Khan Younis as Gaza war reaches six months

The Israel Defense Forces withdrew the 98th division and the 7th armored brigade from Khan Younis after four months of battles in the city. Israel’s Defense Minister said “the withdrawal of troops from Khan Younis was carried out once Hamas ceased to exist as a military framework in the city.” The shift in forces is being watched closely across the region as Israel continues to say it will enter the southern Gaza city of Rafah in order to defeat Hamas.

Israel faces renewed rocket threat from Gaza

Rocket fire from Gaza targeted the Israeli cities of Netivot, Sderot and Ashkelon on April 4. Although rocket fire has increased in recent days, this is the first attack on Netivot since January. In Gaza, the IDF operated in Beit Hanoun, Khan Younis and other areas, and clarified that while it is generally on high alert due to the multi-front conflict, it has not changed home front guidelines amid increased Iranian threats.

Israel beefs up air defenses, calls on reservists as Iran vows to avenge IRGC assassinations

Israel called up reservists for air defense units amid Iranian threats to respond to an airstrike in Damascus which killed IRGC leaders. After Hezbollah launched numerous rockets at northern Israel on the afternoon of April 3, Israel responded with artillery fire and airstrikes. Israel’s IDF also said it had determined the explosion that wounded several UN observers in Lebanon was the result of an explosive device planted by Hezbollah.

Israel’s multi-front war takes shape

Iran blamed Israel for an airstrike in Damascus that killed a senior IRGC Quds Force commander. Iranian-backed groups in Iraq targeted Eilat with a drone, while clashes in the West Bank between armed groups and the Palestinian Authority are increasing. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel is currently in a “multi-front war.”

IDF ends two-week Shifa hospital raid

The Israel Defense Forces wrapped up a two-week operation at Shifa hospital in Gaza. The IDF said it detained more than 900 suspects during the raid, 513 of which were confirmed to be members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That the IDF continued to face mortar threats throughout the duration of the raid on Shifa suggests that Hamas maintains cells in northern Gaza that still pose a threat.

IDF raids in Gaza capture terrorists and uncover weapons

IDF forces have been operating in the Amal and Qarara neighborhoods of Khan Younis for one week and have found weapons and ammunition in addition to carrying out numerous airstrikes and eliminating suspected terrorists. This is a contrast to the IDF’s ongoing operation in and around the Shifa hospital complex. The multi-pronged offensive here may pave the way for future IDF operations in Rafah.