The Israel Defense Forces continue to redeploy reserve units from Gaza after months of war, with several reserve brigades having been withdrawn in the last two weeks. With fighting in Gaza reduced, these reservists are able to return home. In Gaza, the IDF has increased its ability to respond to rocket fire and eliminate perpetrators of rocket launches and other types of attacks.
In the final part of its narrative strategy, Hezbollah sets demands for the international community, but which are designed to advance Hezbollah’s goal of gradually and slowly achieving Israel’s destruction.
Hezbollah did not claim today’s rocket barrage on Safed, which struck an IDF base and killed a soldier. But the dynamics surrounding the attack suggest it may have been a retaliation for Israeli strikes on high-value Hezbollah targets beginning with an Israeli attack last week in Nabatiyeh targeting two high-ranking Hezbollah commanders.
Propaganda is a critical element of Hezbollah’s warfighting toolkit. The current Gaza-Israel War, of which Hezbollah considers itself a part, is no different, and the group has therefore crafted a narrative around that conflict to appeal to Western audiences to side against the Israelis.
Israeli Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi visited northern Gaza to meet with key Israeli commanders and discuss Israel’s new raids into areas wherein the IDF defeated Hamas in November and December. Israel continues to find tunnels in Khan Younis and target Hamas members throughout Gaza.
Hezbollah continued to fire rockets at Israel on February 4 and 5, as Israel’s Minister of Defense warned that Israel’s air force is “pointing” north and as the Israel Defense Forces released new data on strikes against Hezbollah. US envoy Amos Hochstein was in Israel at the same time France’s Foreign Minister visited Jerusalem.
Rockets from Lebanon targeted the northern Israeli community of Arab al-Aramshe. Israel’s Defense Minister visited Haifa and warned about a potential conflict in the north. Israel’s Chief of Staff visited the Gaza border and met with a reserve battalion that had suffered losses in Gaza. The IDF also revealed more details about its operations using water in Gaza tunnels.
The IDF continues to degrade Hamas forces in Khan Younis, with Israel estimating that more than half of Hamas battalions in the city have been eliminated. Nonetheless, Israel’s Defense Minister met with a unit of IDF artillery to discuss the long war ahead that Israel still faces.
Rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza decreased significantly between January 21 and 24. In Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces continued to increase pressure on Hamas in the southern city of Khan Younis. Israeli forces also found a tunnel near the Israeli border in central Gaza.
Bill and Joe catch up on the latest news from the Middle East, including U.S. pressure on Israel (led by Secretary of State Blinken) to come to a permanent ceasefire in Gaza while the U.S. also considers withdrawing its own troops from Syria; Israeli casualties in Gaza (including suffering the recent historic loss of 24 IDF reservists); Israeli strikes inside Lebanon; and, yes, more Houthi drama.
24 Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza on January 22, the worst single day of casualties for Israel since ground operations in Gaza began on October 27. While continuing work to secure the border region and dismantle terrorist infrastructure, an IDF unit involved in this operation suffered the loss of 21 of its soldiers when an RPG impacted and caused an explosion which led to the collapse of nearby buildings on the soldiers.
The Israel Defense Forces expanded operations in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, hometown of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. IDF forces also revealed a tunnel in the city where hostages were held. In other areas of Gaza, the Israeli navy carried out operations along the coast, and a training area was found in northern Gaza. Hamas members were targeted with airstrikes
The US Ambassador to Israel visited Israel’s Northern Command, where IDF commanders discussed threats from Hezbollah. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. IDF tanks found a terrorist training facility in Gaza, and the IDF wrapped up a two-day raid in the West Bank.
A new Sinai-based organization calling itself Kataib al-Farouq calls for attacks against Israel.
The youngest Israeli hostage in Gaza turned one year old this week, bringing into focus the lives of the remaining 136 hostages still held by Hamas inside Gaza, where Israeli forces have continued to uncover and dismantle terrorist infrastructure, including weapons and machines for making munitions.
Bill and Joe discuss stats released this week by the IDF pertaining to its operations in Gaza and why escalation at Israel’s northern border with Lebanon is “just a matter of time.”
The Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi HaLevi discussed the likelihood for escalation in northern Israel amid continued Hezbollah attacks. As Israel’s 36th division is ending its deployment in Gaza, two airstrikes targeted terrorist cells in the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces released data after three months of fighting Hamas in Gaza. Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah targets after a missile launched by the terrorist group killed two civilians inside Israel. Israel’s Defense Minister also warned of escalation in the West Bank.
The Israel Defense Forces operated in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and in central Gaza to target Hamas terrorists. Israel estimates that Hamas used 6,000 tons of concrete to build hundreds of miles of tunnels underneath Gaza. Meanwhile at the Hague, Israel defended itself against charges of genocide brought against it by South Africa.
Joe just returned from Israel and joins Bill to share insights from his trip which included a sobering visit to Nir Oz, one of the kibbutz communities along the Gaza border that was brutally attacked by Hamas on October 7, 2023.
The Israel Defense Forces and Ministry of Defense distributed rifles to local security teams in an effort to bolster security for concerned civilians in northern and southern border-straddling communities. Meanwhile, the IDF carried out strikes on Hezbollah and continued to uproot terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
Nine IDF soldiers were killed in Gaza, six of which died as a result of a mistaken demolition explosion. Hezbollah increased drone attacks on Israel with strikes deeper into northern Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The IDF expanded some operations in Khan Yunis on January 8, using the 7th armored brigade to support paratroopers and commandos who are identifying terrorist targets. The IDF continues to find terrorist infrastructure in Khan Yunis and other parts of Gaza, and Israel’s Defense Minister vowed that fighting will continue against Hamas.
Bill and Behnam unpack this week’s headlines from the Middle East, including the assassination of Hamas deputy Saleh al-Arouri; the U.S. strike that killed Iran-backed militia commander Abu Taqwa Al-Saedi in Iraq (and subsequent drama with the Iraqi government); the U.S.-led coalition dubbed Prosperity Guardian’s “final warning” to the Houthis; and the ISIS bombings at a memorial in Kerman, Iran for slain IRGC-QF commander Qassim Suleimani.
Israel dismantles terrorist infrastructure in Gaza as the intensity of the war against Hamas shifts into a new phase. Tunnels were discovered under a Gaza hotel near the beach, and the IDF revealed they had dismantled a tunnel found in November under Shifa hospital. IDF reserve unit commanders also met at IDF Southern Command to discuss lessons learned in three months of fighting in Gaza.
Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel is determined to return Israeli civilians to communities near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and that the window for diplomatic solutions for reducing the Hezbollah threat is closing. The IDF also carried out a multi-day raid near Tukaram in the West Bank and eliminated a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative.
The IDF says it is in a high state of readiness in the wake of the killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon on January 2. Israel did not take responsibility for the killing, but pro-Iranian groups like Hezbollah have blamed Israel. Meanwhile, Red Sea tensions increased with the Houthis continuing to target commercial ships.
Salih al-Aruri is the first major Hamas political or military leader killed since Hamas and its terrorist allies launched the Oct. 7 rampage on southern Israel.
Hamas has yet to employ a game changing weapon in this current conflict and that is conflict at the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Israel revealed details about a Hamas headquarters that was uncovered and destroyed in northern Gaza. The extensive tunnel system linked several houses and the tunnels included electricity and sewage systems. In southern Gaza, the IDF continued to expand operations. Hezbollah attacks targeted numerous communities in northern Israel, and the Israeli air force carried out retaliatory airstrikes against Hezbollah.