The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spent the first 48 hours of renewed fighting by attacking targets throughout Gaza, and fighting deep into southern portions of the Gaza Strip — apparently surprising Hamas, which expected Israel to stay in the north alone.
The U.S. had openly opposed an Israeli invasion of the southern Gaza Strip, saying that Israel had to account for civilians first. Whether Israel defied the U.S, or the U.S. participated in the ruse, Hamas does not appear to have expected the southern push.
Israel also released a map to help civilians avoid fighting, with different areas of the Gaza Strip numbered. The U.S. suggested that the map satisfied its concerns, though the administration has at times offered conflicting signals about Israeli tactics.
Reports on social media suggested that Israel had cut begun to cut a path across the southern Gaza Strip, entering from the east and progressing toward the Mediterranean coast, effectively dividing Gaza into three smaller sections — north, central and south.
Fighting in the south centered around the city of Khan Yunis, where Hamas leadership is thought to have fled — and where many of the remaining 137 Israeli hostages may be imprisoned. Talk among Israeli officials has shifted from negotiating for the release of hostages to the possibility of freeing them by force.
Israel announced the elimination of a senior Hamas commander, Haitham Khuwajari, an alleged leader of the October 7 terror attack on Israel, on Sunday, and the IDF and Israel Security Agency [ISA] released video of the airstrike in which he was killed:
חוואג׳רי פיקד על אבטחת הפעילות של ארגון הטרור חמאס בבית החולים שיפאא וכן פיקד על הלחימה נגד כוחות צה״ל במחנה שאטי.
במהלך תפקידו, חואג’רי היה אחראי על פעילות טרור רבה כנגד תושבי מדינת ישראל pic.twitter.com/nWsbHuxOMu
— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) December 3, 2023
Hamas launched dozens of rockets at targets across Israel, but speculation mounted that it might be emptying its arsenals rather than allowing rockets to be seized by the advancing IDF before being fired.
Reports on social media suggested that morale among the Palestinian population had begun to collapse, and that Israel might turn the tide against Hamas by appealing directly to the residents of Gaza to rise up against the terrorists that rule the territory.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.