Tue 28 Nov 2023 10:30 am - Jerusalem Time
The Economist: A fierce battle looms in southern Gaza after the end of the truce
The British Economist magazine expects that there will be a next phase of fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, which will be more difficult and controversial after the end of the truce.
The British magazine considered what is happening now to be a rare moment of peace after weeks of suffering, as dozens of Israelis who had been detained for 7 weeks were reunited with their families. The short cessation of the war in Gaza also allowed Palestinians to leave their shelters and search for food, fuel, their missing relatives, and what remained of their homes.
However, those moments were bittersweet. Most of the hostages were not released, and most of the Palestinians who returned to their homes found nothing but rubble. These moments will also be short-lived, as the truce was scheduled to end today, November 28, with the aim of facilitating the exchange of 50 Israeli hostages held in Gaza for 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
The magazine reported that the hostage exchange may continue for a few more days, but it will end, and the next fighting may be worse than what happened before.
It added that at some point the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) will run out of hostages it wants to release in this round of negotiations. Both Israeli soldiers and men will likely remain captive, in the unlikely hope of concluding a larger deal that would include a permanent ceasefire and the release of many Palestinian prisoners. When the truce comes to its inevitable end, Israel will resume fighting against Hamas.
The Economist believes that in the next round of fighting, Israeli forces will continue combing the ruins of northern Gaza in search of tunnel entrances, rocket launchers, and other military sites.
Moving to a humanitarian area
The Economist pointed out that Israeli officials fear the way forward in the south of the Gaza Strip, as they cannot easily send armored units to control the area as they did in the north, because it is crowded with displaced civilians.
Alternatively, they may seek to do so piecemeal, moving into one area at a time, perhaps starting with the central city of Khan Yunis, and trying to force Gazans to move to a designated “humanitarian zone” near the coast.
This is what the magazine considered a risky matter, as civilians will have to choose between gathering on a deserted strip of beach and hiding in their homes or in temporary shelters, both of which could lead to horrific results. Fighting in densely populated areas without heavy armor would be more dangerous for Israeli forces.
The Economist added that all of this makes America nervous. Although US President Joe Biden did not call for a ceasefire, his team is concerned about Israel's plan to launch a major attack in the south. America would like Israel to stop its campaign in the south, especially since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no plan for what will happen in Gaza after the war.
The magazine concluded that if America pressures Israel to back down, this could spare the 2.2 million residents of the Gaza Strip from another round of fighting and displacement. But it may also leave them stuck in an overcrowded and desperate enclave even smaller than the one they lived in before.
Source: Economist +Aljazeera.net