As reports of a possible hostage deal and ceasefire emerge, Israel is shifting its focus to the southern Gaza Strip, where it expects to face the most challenging phase of the war. Despite successfully capturing control of the northern Gaza Strip, IDF forces have only partially destroyed Hamas’ military capabilities and have not yet captured or killed many of its prominent leaders. Hamas leaders are hiding in densely populated towns or underground tunnels, making them difficult to capture.
The IDF has announced plans to attack Hamas in the south, which will likely be similar to their advance in the north but more complex due to the large number of civilians crowded into the area. Senior security officials have signaled this move, stating that many Hamas terrorists have fled there and some leaders are hiding in underground tunnels less damaged from air strikes and with less fighting around them. The IDF believes that Hamas will be a more determined enemy in the south, and their goal is to keep moving forward towards achieving their objective of eliminating Hamas.
The IDF is preparing to block the southern border with Egypt and is ready to protect civilians who have fled there. However, American officials are urging Israel to delay its operations until plans for protecting civilians have been prepared. Palestinian citizens have become increasingly desperate, and measures need to be taken to reduce harm to civilians. The IDF has been strategizing on how to block the tunnel network, destroy Hamas strongholds in the south, and minimize harm caused by their operations. Although progress will be slow, they remain determined to continue moving forward with their operations in the southern Gaza Strip while aiming for eliminating Hamas and reducing threats posed by it towards Israel.