Is this the reason for the delay?
JPOST: A number of factors seem to have caused a delay, but sources have told The Jerusalem Post that one factor has been a growing concern that Hezbollah is waiting for the moment that most IDF ground forces are committed to Gaza to open a… pic.twitter.com/eqqoFV2NSM
— Alex Christoforou (@AXChristoforou) October 16, 2023
Is Hezbollah waiting to strike until forces are in a Gaza quagmire?
The IDF had given certain deadlines for Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza, with the deadlines expiring by midday Friday.
The drum beat toward an invasion had started as early as Sunday-Monday and was only getting louder, with the air force having already paved the way with several days of withering bombing.
Yet, now we have arrived at late Monday, and if anything, the signs (which could also be psychological warfare) are that the invasion is further away, and not yet imminent.
A number of factors seem to have caused a delay, but sources have told The Jerusalem Post that one factor has been a growing concern that Hezbollah is waiting for the moment that most IDF ground forces are committed to Gaza to open a full front with the IDF in the north.
In this narrative, the fact that Hezbollah did not engage at the start of the war Saturday morning and has kept its attacks on Israel at a fairly low threshold does not prove that it is deterred but is part of an elaborate fake-out to lure the IDF into a false sense of security, similar to what Hamas pulled off in the south.
As fodder for such suspicions, sources would note that Israeli intelligence and the political echelon must have a new level of humility about their assessments of enemy intentions after missing the boat regarding Hamas in the south.
This will not stop the IDF from invading Gaza, but it may have caused a delay to better double-check signs regarding Hezbollah’s intentions as well as to further reinforce the northern forces in case the worst comes to pass.
There is also a deepening recognition in the IDF and at the political level, that the IDF has not done anything like this in decades, and that rushing in unprepared, simply to more quickly satisfy the wider population’s thirst for retribution, could be a large mistake.
In this perspective, the 2006 Second Lebanon War ground invasion was a complete mess, with the airpower being the successful part, with both the 2008-9 and 2014 invasions of Gaza being more symbolic.
In other words, with all of the many “rounds” of conflict, the IDF should not be overconfident about its talent at conducting large land invasion operations.
Strategy against Hamas
While achieving strategic “surprise” would be impossible given that Hamas started this war, the IDF would also like to achieve at least a tactical surprise against Hamas, which requires planning.
A number of other delaying factors could be US pressure to avoid civilian casualties, domestic concerns about Israeli hostages in Gaza, and giving more time for Palestinians to evacuate.
Another factor is the US and world response to date.
Currently, Israel feels huge support and like it has more time to work with to deal with Hamas.
One question that arises at this point though is whether top IDF and civilian leaders are misjudging the clock.
According to Hamas’ numbers, already a couple thousand Palestinians are dead and many more wounded. In 2014, when 2,000 Palestinians were killed, at least half were civilians despite the IDF’s attempts to avoid civilian casualties.
Such is the fog of war.
The second that those numbers balloon, which will likely be when the invasion starts in a real way, there will be powerful US and world pressure to stop.
Also, the Post has confirmed from many sources that no one has yet decided what will happen to Gaza after the IDF will supposedly topple Hamas’ rule.
This and all of the other above factors have left top Israeli officials huffing and puffing for new superlatives for what they will do to Hamas…while still basically having done very little new for about a week.
Only after the war will we know whether this extra time was spent wisely crafting a smarter and more effective invasion and post-invasion plan, or whether the delay will be looked back on as having wasted precious days to “change the reality in Gaza” and avoid future near term Hamas attacks.