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As a kind of follow-up to some older questions here...

Blinken said on Nov 30 that "the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in northern Gaza, not be repeated in the south".

It's been also reported that the ceasefire has ended due to Hamas breaking it, according to Blinken's statement on Dec 1 (thanks, tim) and the IDF resumed operations, including in the south of Gaza. (FWTW, Hamas has blamed Israel for the end of the ceasefire.) Anyhow, that WSJ piece also contains a short clip from Kamala Harris, saying "Israel must do more to protect innocent civilians". Apparently, she said that in Dubai, on Dec 2.

Did US statements make much difference to IDF's strategy in their new operations in southern Gaza? What has the IDF (or defense ministry Gallant etc.) have said/announced about the renewed operations in southern Gaza, and what has been observed on the ground thus far? (I see Gallant is quoted in the piece that tim pointed out saying "Hamas only understands force". Anything beyond that?)

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  • What has your prior research shown? ;)
    – Roger V.
    Dec 5, 2023 at 8:16

2 Answers 2

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According to Amos Harel, Haareetz War correspondent, the main focus of IDF in the southern part of the strip, is the city of Khan Yunis, and surrounding refugee camps. This is because IDF believes that in the city (or rather, underneath it) is where the headquarters of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas Chief in the Gaza Strip, is located. Within the city boundaries are also Hamas remaining intact 4 brigades, who thus far took little part in the fighting.

Harel reports that during the ceasefire there were discussions between Israel and US, both on political and military levels. the Americans demanded that IDF will not repeat its "carpet bombing" tactics from the Gaza campaign and furthermore will ensure the continuous operation of the humanitarian corridor from Egypt. in the coming days, IDF will check how these restrictions will delay and/or complicate the ground campaign of Khan Yunis.

and of course there is the issue of the 130+ kidnapped Israeli hostages that are still being held by Hamas (with some already declared killed during captivity). Right now it seems there is no option of another brokered ceasefire and the military campaign will no doubt increase the risk to the hostages lives and wellbeing. the dichotomy of interests and considerations will surely intensify during the IDF campaign in the south.

Regarding real time moves on the ground: Yesterday IDF issued a demand for the evacuation westwards of residents of several eastern neighborhoods of Khan Yunis. Palestinian sources report of air bombardments on the city that increase in intensity, as well as IDF tanks maneuvering east of the city.

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    Quibbling, but are you sure the Americans used the term "carpet bombing" to describe IDF operations? That seems very odd. If in the article (paywall) can you quote that? Dec 5, 2023 at 18:31
  • The article does not mention the term "carpet bombing". the literal translation is "grinding bombardment" Dec 5, 2023 at 19:45
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To add a bit of detail to the other answer, apparently the plan (for now) is to encircle Khan Younis; CNN:

“Sixty days after the war began, our forces are now encircling the Khan Yunis area in the southern Gaza Strip,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said on Tuesday. “Simultaneously, we continue to secure our accomplishments in the northern Gaza Strip.”

Earlier Tuesday, the IDF said that its forces were operating “in the heart” of Khan Younis, the territory’s second-largest city.

In the north: Israeli troops have also "completed the encirclement" of the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, Israel's military said Tuesday, as it seeks to complete its offensive operations against Hamas militants in the north of the enclave.

Halevi said that the IDF was now entering the “third phase of the ground operations,” though he did not specify what that meant. “We have secured many Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip, and now we are operating against its strongholds in the south,” he said.

The earlier report carried by Fox News and others referred to Dec 5 as the heaviest day of fighting thus far:

An Israel Defense Forces commander said Tuesday that Israel’s military is currently “in the most intense day since the beginning of the ground operation -- in terms of terrorists killed, the number of firefights, and the use of firepower from the land and air.”

Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, who leads the Southern Command, said in a statement that “We are in the heart of Jabalya, in the heart of Shuja'iyya, and now also in the heart of Khan Younis.”

FWTW, the NYT published this map of evacuation orders/advice yesterday (Dec 4).

enter image description here

Israel expanded evacuation orders in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday to parts of central and eastern Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, where hundreds of thousands fled in the first stage of the war. The orders come ahead of an expected ground invasion in the south.

The expanded orders follow earlier demands to evacuate the large area east of Khan Younis that borders Israel and encompasses the agricultural villages of Al Qarara, Bani Suheila, Abasan and Khuza’a.

Note that this is not a map of military advances. ISW which is the usual source of those has yet to publish one for the southern area/offensive as I'm writing this.

Also, I'm not sure if the earlier orders that the NYT alludes to stand or not. The IDF has published just this in Arabic recently on X (I've rotated so it would have the same orientation):

enter image description here

In lieu of a map of the offensive details, so far we have this textual description from AP (from two days ago):

The images, shot Sunday by Planet, show Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers just under 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the heart of Khan Younis, the major city of the southern part of the Gaza Strip. [...]

The Israeli deployment sits just to the west of Salah al-Din, a main north-south corridor within the Gaza Strip that many used to flee. An AP analysis found positions in four clusters, with a total of around 150 armored personnel carriers, tanks and other vehicles in the area.

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