Iran is main mover behind this war – when Israel removes Hamas that won’t be the end

Article published in The Daily Mirror, 14 October 2023. © Richard Kemp

I’m writing this from an Israeli defensive position on the northern border with Lebanon. The world’s eyes are on Gaza but Israel must have guns everywhere.

Just before I arrived a group of Hezbollah terrorists attempted to infiltrate into Israel and were wiped out from the air. Then they attacked with rockets. The Iranian-backed terrorist group have 150,000 missiles pointing at Israel.

They might well join this fight in earnest, perhaps as the Israel Defence Force (IDF) gets entrenched into the battle in Gaza. The US Navy has entered the eastern Mediterranean to deter exactly that. Earlier on Gaza’s border I met with troops preparing to enter the Strip. They were apprehensive yet determined to do what is needed to protect family, friends and countrymen from Hamas rockets.

They are also ready to put their lives on the line to make sure these bloodthirsty terrorists can never again commit the atrocities we saw last weekend. The only way to do that is by destroying every shred of Hamas’s capability.

Much of the destruction of Hamas can be done from the air but a ground offensive may be needed to finish the job. On Friday the IDF launched lightning raids into Gaza and then withdrew.

If they need to enter Gaza in force the men I spoke to will be in for a tough fight over land sewn with booby traps, snipers and ambush teams. But they are trained and there is no doubt they will prevail.

Conforming with the laws of war, IDF air commanders have been careful to minimise civilian casualties. But that can’t be avoided altogether when fighting an enemy that hides behind its own civilian population. The more blunt weapon of an infantry assault could lead to an even greater civilian casualty rate.

Hamas’s main stronghold is around Gaza City, and before intensifying attacks there the IDF have instructed civilians to head south. Absurdly, some commentators suggested this is against international law when it is the precise opposite.

Lebanon is likely to be dragged into this war if Hezbollah intensify their attacks. Iran might also push its forces and proxies in Syria to join the assault.

When Israel has removed Hamas that will not be the end. Hamas is the government of Gaza and Israel will have no choice than to take over control as the population emerges from war.

Image: Wikimedia Commons