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Forces continue to redeploy reserve units from Gaza after months of war, with several reserve brigades having been withdrawn in the last two weeks.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.
Part II: 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.
Hezbollah launched two barrages of rockets at Israel on February 9. The head of Israel’s air force told an Israel Defense Forces conference that “Hezbollah will continue to pay with the loss of its systems. Dozens of aircraft are now operating in the skies of southern Lebanon.” Israel carried out retaliatory strikes against Hezbollah on February 9
Israel targeted two high-ranking Hezbollah commanders in an airstrike in Nabatieh. While the details and outcome remain uncertain, the location of the strike and nature of the targets suggest Israel’s patience is wearing thing with Hezbollah’s ongoing attacks.
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.
Despite the incessant attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis and Iranian proxy militias in Iraq and Syria, the Biden administration continues to insist it is not at war with Iran.
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.
Israel revealed the existence of Hezbollah’s airstrip back in September. Information available at the time indicated Hezbollah would use it to launch drones to attack Israel. When the group did so last Wednesday, Israel bombed the airstrip.
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 U.S. and U.K., backed by just four other countries, renewed attacks on Houthi military targets. The paucity of countries willing to confront the Houthis, and thus Iran, highlights the difficulty the Biden administration has had in assembling an international coalition to restore calm to the vital shipping lanes.
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 attacks against Houthi missiles are no longer being conducted under the aegis of an international coalition, but directly by the U.S. military.
An airstrike in the Syrian capital of Damascus killed five IRGC military advisors, including General Sadegh Omidzadeh. The strike is the second against Iranian advisors in Syria in the past four weeks.
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.
Israeli forces killed three gunmen that infiltrated northern Israel from Lebanon on Sunday morning. The trio were claimed by an unknown group calling itself Islamic Azz Brigades.
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.
One week after threatening the Iranian-backed Houthis for targeting international shipping, the U.S. led coalition has failed to back up its words with deeds. Houthi attacks continue unabated.