With the conflict approaching the end of its third month, Israel said this week that it is entering a new phase of its war against terrorist organization Hamas.
On Monday, the country withdrew some tanks from sections of Gaza City. All of it is part of a plan that was previously announced to respond to Israel’s changing military needs, as well as put safeguards in place for the country’s economy.
While the operations being carried out by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza are expected to last for months still, the focus will shift from an all-out invasion to “mopping up” militants still associated with Hamas, according to a recent Reuters report.
Since Hamas’ deadly attack on innocent Israelis on October 7, Israel has struck back with devastating attacks in Gaza. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has claimed those attacks have resulted in more than 20,000 people being killed – including many civilians.
It’s also triggered a major humanitarian crisis in the region for the people who have been affected and displaced.
While many countries initially supported Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas, support for their plight has waned over time. Even the U.S. – considered one of Israel’s staunchest allies – have called into question some of the military practices, which have resulted in high civilian death tolls.
One of the reasons for the partial withdrawal of some troops is because the economy in Israel has taken a hit since the war began. At one point, about 30,000 civilian workers were called up to fight over in Gaza since they were reservists.
Media outlets have reported that about 200,000 reservists are still serving, meaning they are absent from roles in civilian life.
The withdrawal of Israeli troops also comes as the largest carrier that the U.S. deployed to the region, the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group, is returning home.
While the government run by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has said they won’t stop until all of Hamas has been destroyed, the troop withdrawal does signal that some objectives the IDF had against Hamas have been met.
Hamas has been governing Gaza since back in 2007, but Israel says the war won’t end until the terrorist group is completely eradicated.
While the war seems like it is entering a scaled-down version, there’s still expected to be significant damage and destruction in Gaza. Civilian infrastructure has been reduced to only rubble in many places, which already puts a serious strain on life there.
In addition to economic concerns, Israel is drawing down troops in anticipation of a potential future military need to the country’s northern border. That’s where another terrorist group, Hezbollah, is stationed in Lebanon.
Artillery fire between Hezbollah and the IDF has been exchanged regularly since the war broke out, and it’s possible those conflicts could escalate in the near future.
Hezbollah fighters have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in retaliation for Israel’s attacks, and that has already sparked further tensions.