US fears IDF not prepared for ground war in Gaza

Israel lacks achievable military goals in Gaza, Biden administration frets.

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

The Biden Administration is concerned that Israel lacks achievable military goals in the Gaza War, and officials do not think Israel is ready for ground operations.

There have been constant meetings and phone calls between US officials and their Israeli counterparts regarding the ground incursion, which most thought would begin this past Monday, October 23.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak almost daily.

Austin, in an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” speculated that an Israeli ground war would take a long time. “Urban combat is extremely difficult,” he said, noting that there are networks of tunnels and terrorists fighting from densely populated areas. “Hamas has prepared for this battle for a long time.”

As head of US Army Central Command during the 2017 Iraq war, Austin told how the US removed the Islamic State (ISIS) from power via surgical strikes and targeted raids by Special Forces in the battle of Mosul.

He suggested this tactic as the most successful for Israel against Hamas in Gaza. According to the AP, between 9,000 to 11,000 civilians were killed, although other estimates reach as high as 40,000.

Austin also discussed the Battle of Fallujah in 2004, remarking that the Israeli Security Cabinet seems to want this type of operation in Gaza.

US officials say that an Israeli ground war in Gaza will result in more casualties, both military and civilian, while the Battle of Fallujah (which led to four years of prolonged fighting until President Bush withdrew all American troops in 2008, leaving Fallujah turned over to the Iraqi forces) resulted in 82 US casualties and 1,200-1,500 Iraqi fatalities.

The US and European countries are pressing Israel to hold off on a ground war in order to negotiate the release of the over 220 hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza. Four hostages have been released to date.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Biden administration are also pressing Israel for a post-war strategy.

In particular, the Biden administration has urged Israel to determine now who will administer the Gaza Strip once Hamas is removed from power.

The IDF has repeatedly asserted that it is ready for a ground. Over 10,000 airstrikes have helped clear the way, eliminating many terror cells in Gaza. Despite the possibility of heavy casualties, the Israeli army has stated that it can succeed in its mission. The IDF says it can “pivot” its Gaza-bound troops, if needed to supplement troops already stationed on the northern front (bordering Lebanon) that are fighting Hezbollah.

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The Wall Street Journal reported the breakdown of negotiations for the much-anticipated release of 50 hostages, due to Hamas demands for fuel delivery to Gaza for “humanitarian” purposes.

In response, the IDF has circulated a photo of fuel tanks to Gaza civilians, with a message: “These fuel tanks are inside Gaza. They contain more than 500,000 liters of fuel. Ask Hamas if you can have some.”

Senior IDF officials feel the ground invasion of Gaza must begin soon; that further postponement may lead to a lessening of morale among soldiers, as well as to intensified attacks by Hezbollah in the north.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi says that the army is fully prepared to begin the ground offensive and anxious to begin. “This is our country, our home, and we will defend it in every way,” he said. “Hamas leadership and anyone acting under their command will pay the price for their actions.”