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How Have Israel’s Gaza Objectives Changed?

Hamas’s Al Aqsa Flood left Israel in a state of shock, shaking their confidence in both their political and military leadership. Despite continuous violations of human rights, Israel has persistently pursued specific objectives since the commencement of their unrelenting assault on Gaza. Israeli leadership vowed to destroy Hamas and reshape the Gaza landscape.

Initially, their ambitious plan was to relocate Gaza’s civilians to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula while the Israeli army engaged Hamas fighters who remained. However, this plan quickly ran aground, with the Egyptian government unequivocally stating it as a redline.

The Palestinian people’s deep-seated distrust of Israel’s promises, particularly regarding their return to Gaza after the ground assault, is rooted in history. Many of those in Gaza are descendants of refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 during the Nakba. It appeared that Israel’s leadership was operating in a realm of impracticality when considering this as a viable option.

Israel later shifted its rhetoric towards pushing people from the northern part of the strip to the south. Most of the bombardment in Gaza has focused on the northern area, predominantly Gaza City. Hospitals, bakeries, schools, power stations, and water facilities in Gaza City have been among the targeted facilities. This is seen as an adaption of the initial plan: instead of annexing the whole of Gaza, the North alone is to be delivered to Israel’s settlers. 

Israel even resorted to dropping Arabic-language leaflets, urging residents in the north to move south. Despite these efforts, most people in northern Gaza chose to stay, and those who attempted to move south were hindered by repeated Israeli bombings of key roadways connecting the two.

Israel’s ground incursion into the strip began without achieving its goal of emptying Gaza City, which is located in the North of Gaza. Their strategic objective appears to be to isolate Gaza City and inflict collective punishment on its population, compelling them to flee. 

This approach aims to compress the densely populated strip into a smaller area, bringing the population closer to the Egyptian border, which could facilitate the displacement of Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula in a future conflict.

The unfolding events on the ground in Gaza hold the key to the future. Will Israel achieve its goal of shrinking the Gaza Strip, or will their military operation falter? Regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear: the Middle East is on the cusp of a new era.