Israel's Gaza Ground Offensive Begins... in the West Bank?

TSAFRIR ABAYOV

Pundits and amateurs alike have wondered when Jerusalem would order the ground troops into Gaza to take direct action against Hamas and that terrorist government’s cement-lined “spider-web” of tunnels beneath the city. On Thursday, the Israelis did indeed begin a ground offensive, with at least 40 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and Caterpillar D9 Armored Bulldozers. The big surprise is that the IDF attacked the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank.

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Jenin is just across the border from Israel proper and has long been a stronghold for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Hit ’em where they least expect it, I suppose. The attack has been described as a “large-scale raid,” undoubtedly to knock out at least one Hamas base. Gunmen in the city have shot at Israeli troops in recent days, resulting in a series of rare airstrikes. IDF raids are much more common, but I can’t recall one on Thursday’s scale.

Some sources report that the bulldozers were sent to destroy streets and infrastructure but this video shows the IAF clearing streets in Jenin.

While the world’s attention has been largely focused on Gaza — and Jerusalem would probably rather remain focused on Gaza, too — Hamas and their jihadi allies have lit up the West Bank in recent days. I’m otherwise wary of this Time report for mindlessly parroting Hamas’s casualty claims, but it’s correct when it quotes Israel-Palestine analyst Mairav Zonszein saying West Bank violence is now “on steroids.”

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The Jerusalem Post reported that three Palestinian terrorists were killed in Jenin clashes on Friday, including “a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades.”

But with more than 300,000 reservists mobilized, it isn’t as though events in Jenin have Israel distracted from the main event in Gaza. NBC News reported late Thursday/early Friday on a similar “targeted raid” into northern Gaza with an unknown number of troops and armored vehicles. According to Israeli sources, the raid was part of their “preparations for the next stages of combat.” Meanwhile, IAF airstrikes hit a reported 250 targets in Gaza over the previous 24 hours.

Recommended: You’ll Never Believe Where Hamas Hid a Military Headquarters (Actually, You Will)

Pulling back to look at the bigger picture reveals a confused and dangerous mess. Some of the confusion emanates — because of course it does — from the Biden administration.

On the one hand, Reuters reports that Biden and his national security team “have markedly shifted their tone on the Israel-Hamas crisis in recent days, moving from unfettered support of Israel to emphasizing the need to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza.” World opinion, as tainted by antisemitism as ever, has apparently caused the White House to blanch.

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The shift might also be because of the antisemites within the Democrat party’s own ranks. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas War, Biden’s “approval rating among Democrats has tumbled 11 percentage points… the worst reading of his presidency from his own party.” This is what happens when a political party gets into bed with the likes of The Squad and campus radicals devoted to the destruction of Israel.

On the other hand, the administration hasn’t just ordered even more forces to the Middle East, they’re increasingly in a war posture. A local source privately reports that Marines have been ordered into their desert camouflage uniforms with muted rank insignia. And there’s the tiny little matter of Thursday’s U.S. Air Force strikes against “two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria.”

So it’s OK when we do it but Israel needs to show some more restraint?

Finally, let’s look towards Moscow, where Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is hosting a Hamas delegation to discuss “Zionist crimes supported by the United States and the West.” The actual talks might also involve Putin giving Hamas tips on large-scale ethnic cleansing.

I fully expect this report to be half out of date by the time I file it, so stay tuned because this is a bumpy ride we’re on and it’s barely begun.

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