Israel Begins To Scale Back Gaza War, But Still Expects Fighting To Continue All Year

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jan 08, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Israel is again welcoming US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for an official visit, but this time with a key announcement indicating its forces have "shifted" to a new, scaled-back phase of the war, in line with the Biden administration's wishes. Blinken is in the region with a message to 'limit' the spread of war.

"The war shifted a stage," IDF spokemsan Admiral Hagari told The New York Times, describing a planned reduction in both ground troops and airstrikes. "But the transition will be with no ceremony," he said. "It’s not about dramatic announcements."

Massive bombardment of the Strip in opening days of operation, via Reuters.

Gaza's Health Ministry has lately said the death toll after months of the Israeli military's operation in response to Oct.7 has surpassed 23,000 - mostly civilian deaths. International outrage, particularly among Global South countries, has been steady. The White House has for weeks behind the scenes pressed Israeli officials to scale-back the mass killing, and to launch a more targeted campaign.

A big part of the pressure comes from the genocide case brought against Israel by South Africa at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. To review of hearings which are set to be held Jan.11 and 12:

  • South Africa alleges Israel's actions in Gaza "are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part" of the Palestinian population in the enclave.
  • Israel immediately rejected the case as "baseless," but — unlike in previous cases at international tribunals — it decided to appear in front of the court because it's a signatory to the Genocide Convention. Israel will be represented at the ICJ by the British barrister Malcolm Shaw.

Hagari said that operations in the northern half of the Strip have already begun to ebb, and that troop and reserve force reductions from the battlefield would continue. He also vowed the allowance of more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from Egypt.

But amid the mass Palestinian suffering, he emphasized, "We were the ones who were butchered," on Oct.7 - in reference to the about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, slaughtered by Hamas.

Meanwhile, controversy has abounded after more videos from the battlefield have been leaked, such as the following:

Israeli media describes

Channel 12 airs a video ostensibly leaked by an IDF source showing a group of Palestinians stripped and bound after being detained by the Israeli military in northern Gaza.

One of the detainees is heard telling the troops, “For 17 years, we’ve lived under tyranny,” ostensibly referring to Hamas.

“When you arrived, we remained in our homes because we live in peace and love peace. If we were guilty of something, we would have left our homes and fled, but we live in our homes in peace,” he says.

And on the other side, Palestinian Islamic Jihad has released a new hostage 'proof of life' video, which Israeli officials say is part of their ongoing psychological warfare efforts...

On Sunday, the head of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said he foresees a fight in Gaza that will continue through the entire year.

"The year 2024 will be challenging. We will be at war in Gaza," IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said. "I don’t know if it will be all year long. We will be fighting in Gaza all year, that’s for sure, and this will also hold the other arenas, certainly in [the West Bank], to a certain state of alertness," he added.