The so-called “ground operation” began with the penetration of Israeli soldiers and tanks into the Gaza Strip on October 20, 2023. As expected, as it was feared, even by Israel’s supporters, it came 13 days after the horrific attack by Hamas militiamen that claimed the lives of 1,200 Israelis. The Israeli army’s response was immediate: the north of the Strip was flattened by powerful air raids that lasted for several days, resulting in the deaths of more than 10,000 Palestinians, many of them children. “There is a time for peace and a time for war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on October 30, and this will apparently be a long and bloody war, fought within Gaza, until Hamas is destroyed.
This will not be an easy task, because, unlike Isis, this is not a well-defined group of terrorists, but an Islamist political party, born as a Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, with religion-based aims. It has ruled Gaza since 2007 and has gradually become radicalized. While it has its leaders – many of whom live in other Arab countries, especially Qatar – and its administrative structures, how many of its followers or sympathizers are actually in Gaza and the West Bank? The Israeli army, at the beginning of the operation, advanced in a gradual and measured manner: first, with precision rocket raids in the north; then, with deadly night raids, followed by incursions of armored vehicles; finally, there followed the ground operation, carried out more decisively, with technologically advanced and destructive weapons.