Monday, December 4, 2023

Israel delaying Gaza incursion to give US time: Report

Israel has agreed to delay its planned invasion of Gaza, after the US asked for time to deploy air defenses to bases around the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported.

Washington has persuaded West Jerusalem to “hold off” the planned operation until “later this week”, unnamed US and Israeli officials told the newspaper on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has reportedly been “scrambling” to deploy a dozen or so air defense systems to bases in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan and Syria.

Israeli officials told the WSJ that diplomatic efforts to free hostages still held by Hamas, and the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza, also factored in the decision to delay the attack.

Drone and rocket strikes have targeted American troops at least ten times in Iraq and three times in Syria over the past seven days. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) initially reported no damage or casualties from the strikes. However, on Tuesday CENTCOM told NBC News that the October 18 drone strike on the Al-Tanf outpost in Syria caused “minor injuries” to 20 troops.

Several previously unknown militias have taken responsibility for the strikes. The US has accused Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of “supporting” the militants, but has not provided any evidence of Iranian culpability.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the Palestinian group’s October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,400 Israelis. Another 200 were taken captive. Tel Aviv has vowed to “dismantle” Hamas and forever change the face of Gaza, and has launched heavy artillery and air strikes against the territory in preparation for a ground invasion.

The US has endorsed Israel’s war plans and pledged billions of dollars in military aid. The Pentagon has also deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups and a Marine expeditionary force to the eastern Mediterranean.

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