Jerusalem/Oslo (Dagbladet): The Israeli authorities want to “control” the situation in the north of the country, before embarking on a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in the south.
Western diplomats in Israel told Dagbladet this.
The Israeli authorities describe the situation in the north as being almost more complicated than in the south. They want to secure this flank before going south. A senior Western diplomat in Dagbladet says they would avoid fighting on two fronts if they could, but would do so if they had to.
– The threat is clear
Since the coordinated and large-scale attack launched by Hamas against Israel on Saturday, October 7, there have been almost daily skirmishes between Israeli forces and the Islamist group Hezbollah along the border with Lebanon in northern Israel.
The number of such skirmishes has only increased recently.
– It is clear that the situation in the north poses a headache for Israel. The risk of war is also high on this front, says John Hansen Bauer, who was Norway’s ambassador to Israel from 2015 to 2020, in Dagbladet.
The Hezbollah movement from Lebanon consists of, among other things, a political wing and an armed wing. The armed wing is one of the most powerful non-governmental militias in the world, and is, among other things, more powerful than the Lebanese army.
The threat from Hezbollah is clear: If Israel enters Gaza, Hezbollah will intervene in the war, in line with the agreements it has with Hamas and other groups, says Hansen Bauer, who is also stationed in Lebanon.
Hamas and Hezbollah enjoy the support of Iran, Israel’s most powerful enemy in the Middle East.
– What Iran considers a profit will affect Hezbollah’s evaluations, says Hansen Bauer.
It will deter
Norway’s former ambassador to Israel and current Western diplomats in Israel are quite clear about what Israel wants to achieve in the north:
The United States is also contributing to this, sending more and more weapons systems and troops to the Middle East recently.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday US authorities expect Iran, through proxies such as Hezbollah, to attempt to direct attacks against US forces when Israel eventually launches a ground invasion of Gaza.
The newspaper added that since October 18 alone, American forces have been subjected to about a dozen attacks in the region.
– Perhaps the situation in the north is part of the picture, but not all of it. The question of when a ground invasion should begin depends on complex considerations, as there are many others, Hansen Bauer tells Dagbladet.
They must take this into consideration
Norway’s former ambassador to Israel highlights just a few of the many considerations that Israeli authorities need to take into account before launching a potential ground invasion:
- Conditions of Israeli and foreign hostages in Gaza.
- International pressure on Israel.
- The risk of major losses among one’s ranks.
- The suffering of the civilian population in Gaza.
The bottom line is that there are many considerations that must be taken into account, and in the meantime Israel is fighting through other means. They may prefer not to have to enter Gaza. At the same time, there is a clear demand from the population to defeat the threat posed by Hamas once and for all, says Hansen-Bauer.
In addition, there are questions about whether the IDF is equipped for a ground invasion.
Reports also indicate that the IDF may not be ready, says Hansen-Bauer.
High-ranking Western diplomat Dagbladet who has been in contact in Israel has the same impression.
The diplomat says that Israel received most of what it needed from the United States, but not everything.
A military aid package for Israel has stalled in the US Congress, which has been paralyzed since October 3, when House of Representatives leader Kevin McCarthy was ousted.
– What I’m really afraid of
When asked whether it was possible to pressure Israel not to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, Hansen-Bauer answered succinctly and succinctly:
– I don’t know. Everything indicates that a ground invasion will happen, but my sincere hope is that it will be avoided, says the former ambassador.
He says it is conceivable that Israel could achieve enough of its goals through air strikes and simple ground operations against Gaza.
– What I’m really afraid of is a large-scale invasion. I am deeply concerned about the suffering of civilians in Gaza. Therefore, I hope that the scale of violent attacks can be reduced. Civilians must be protected, and humanitarian leave is absolutely essential, Hansen-Bauer says.
The great destruction and suffering will make it extremely difficult to make Gaza habitable again, when the terrible war finally ends.
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