The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engaged in a strategic offensive during the first 48 hours of the renewed conflict, focusing on targets across the Gaza Strip and extending their operations deep into the southern regions. This move appeared to catch Hamas off guard as they seemingly anticipated Israel’s military activities to be confined to the northern areas.
The United States had previously expressed opposition to an Israeli invasion of southern Gaza, emphasizing the need to prioritize civilian safety. It remains unclear whether Israel directly defied U.S. advice or if the U.S. was involved in misleading Hamas. Nonetheless, Hamas seemed unprepared for the IDF’s southern campaign.
To aid civilian safety, Israel released a map delineating different zones within Gaza, presumably to help civilians avoid areas of conflict. The U.S. administration’s response to this map indicated a level of satisfaction, although there have been mixed messages from the U.S. regarding Israeli tactics.
Social media reports indicated that the IDF was making significant progress in southern Gaza, particularly around Khan Yunis, a city believed to be a stronghold for Hamas leadership and a possible location for some of the remaining Israeli hostages. Israeli discourse has shifted from negotiation to the potential use of force for hostage release.
A notable development in the conflict was the IDF’s announcement of the elimination of Haitham Khuwajari, a senior Hamas commander linked to the October 7 terror attack. The IDF and Israel Security Agency released footage of the airstrike that resulted in his death.
Hamas responded with a barrage of rocket fire towards Israel, which led to speculation about the depletion of their rocket arsenals, possibly in anticipation of IDF seizure.
There are reports suggesting a decline in morale among the Palestinian population in Gaza. This situation presents an opportunity for Israel to encourage a local uprising against Hamas, the ruling authority in the Gaza Strip, by directly appealing to the residents.