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Military ‘Hold’ on Gaza Roadway Deepens Splits Within Israeli Government

What defines a ceasefire? In the eyes of the Israeli military, it’s when there is a “local, tactical pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes.”

The Israeli army’s humanitarian aid coordinator for Gaza explained that this scheduled daily halt in hostilities would occur from 08:00 to 19:00 local time along a crucial corridor starting from the Kerem Shalom crossing. This pause is designed to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

However, this announcement was met with immediate opposition from right-wing ministers in the government, sparking a swift defense by the Israeli military. They emphasized that the pause was not an indication of an end to the ongoing combat in southern Gaza or a change in the procedure for the entry of humanitarian aid.

The volatile reaction to this pause underscores the tension faced by Israel’s Prime Danjamin Netanyahu. He is caught between achieving the elusive military objectives of dismantling Hamas and securing the release of hostages, and maintaining the support of his political allies to retain power.

Coordination with the Israeli army is still necessary for agencies delivering aid, according to Matt Hollingworth, the Gaza director for the World Food Programme. He mentioned that the effectiveness of this coordination would be critical to improving the delivery of aid.

Yet, Hollingworth also pointed out that improving coordination addresses only one part of the problem. He noted that the most dangerous part of the Gaza Strip for aid delivery is still plagued by insecurity and criminal activity, issues that Sunday’s announcement does not resolve.

Over the weekend, aid agencies reported that the ongoing conflict has led to severe malnutrition in some areas of Gaza. Amidst mounting pressure from non-governmental organizations, allies, and even Israel’s High Court, the Israeli government faces calls to increase aid into Gaza.

However, Netanyahu is encountering fierce resistance from two far-right cabinet members. These officials have threatened to collapse his government if he decides to end the war, arguing that the aid deliveries could undermine Israel’s objectives in the conflict.

Both the Internal Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, have sharply criticized the pause in fighting. Ben-Gvir labeled the decision-makers as “evil” and “foolish,” while Smotrich contended that humanitarian aid sustains Hamas and jeopardizes the gains made in the war.

The controversy surrounding this military announcement, made on a day when Israel was mourning the loss of eleven soldiers, underscores the internal conflict within Israeli leadership between yielding to international pressure and focusing on the immediate military context.

The ongoing conflict in Lebanon with Hezbollah, which has seen an escalation, underscores the broader regional risks of continuing the war against Hamas.

Amid these tensions, public pressure is also mounting. Large protests have occurred in Tel Aviv, with demonstrators urging Netanyahu to conclude the Gaza conflict and secure a deal for the return of 120 Israeli hostages.

The funerals for the eleven soldiers who died in Gaza over the weekend bring into sharp relief the challenges Netanyahu faces in achieving his stated war goals.

Netanyahu has pledged “total victory” against Hamas and views the ongoing military operations in Rafah as essential to defeating Hamas’s remaining forces in Gaza.

However, the ongoing guerrilla tactics by Hamas, even in areas previously secured by Israeli forces, and the elusive capture of key Hamas leaders, signify that a conclusive end to the conflict may not be straightforward.

For Netanyahu, ending the war might not just be about military strategy but could also mean navigating the complexities of his political future. The current tensions highlight the ongoing struggle between military imperatives and political realities.

Lucas Falcão

International Politics and Sports Specialist, Chief Editor of Walerts with extensive experience in breaking news.

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