Israel Announces Limited Operations Pause

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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The IDF has announced there is to be a limited “tactical pause of military activity” for their operations surrounding a specific road within Gaza. The pause, they said, is in order to facilitate the further entry of aid into Gaza.

Not a Ceasefire

The IDF announced the daily pause will occur from 08:00 to 19:00 local time each day, after having begun on Saturday. This pause is to occur solely along a vital roadway, the Salah al-Din Road, which begins at the Kerem Shalom crossing, a border crossing between Israel and Gaza, before continuing northwards to Khan Younis. The area under the pause ends at the European Hospital by Khan Younis.

The roadway is important in the distribution of aid in the surrounding region. This is particularly important as Khan Younis, and much of the surrounding area, has recently been designated as Gaza’s new ‘safe zone’ after Israel’s offensive began upon Rafah last month.

Importantly, the IDF clarified that this pause is not a ceasefire, and will not at all effect their operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. On Saturday, during these operations, eight IDF soldiers were killed after an ambush from Hamas. Three more soldiers were killed in fighting on Sunday.

There are still a number of logistical questions to be solved about how the pause will allow the entrance of more aid into Gaza. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) welcomed the pause, but stated the move “has yet to translate into more aid reaching people in need.”

The pauses come as continual reports surface from Gaza that virtually all of the population is suffering from ‘catastrophic’ levels of hunger, with a number of areas reported to have ‘famine-like’ conditions. Information gathering services are insufficient to determine if the situation meets the exact qualifications for a famine.

Data shows that in May the average amount of trucks entering Gaza per day, excluding fuel trucks was 97. This is a significant drop from April, when an average of 169 trucks were entering Gaza per day, which itself was a rise from March, when 139 trucks entered per day.

The drop in trucks is a direct consequence from the Israeli seizure of the Rafah crossing on May 7th. The Rafah crossing is a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. It was the only crossing point into Gaza not controlled by Israel, and had been the primary entry point of aid into Gaza.

A photo of Israeli tanks in the area of the Rafah crossing following their operation to seize the crossing on May 7th (Photo from the IDF).

Since its seizure by Israeli forces, the Rafah crossing has been closed, and the remainder of crossings controlled by Israel have failed to make up the difference.

Government Opposition

According to Israeli media, several prominent government figures are not only opposed to the pause, but weren’t even told of it before it was enacted.

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant, the two remaining members with voting power in Israel’s ‘War Cabinet’, were told of the pause by the IDF beforehand. Netanyahu reportedly referred to the pause as “unacceptable.” Israeli National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, said whoever made the decision was a “fool,” who was “evil.”

“Whoever decided on a “tactical truce” for the purpose of a humanitarian transition, especially at a time when good soldiers are falling in battle, is evil and a fool who should not continue to be in his position. Unfortunately, this move was not brought before the cabinet and is contrary to its decisions. It’s time to get out of the concept and stop the crazy and delusional approach that only brings us more dead and fallen” -Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar ben Gvir, in a statement released on his telegram

This comes just days after the Israeli Knesset advanced a bill concerning the conscription of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish students. The bill aims to “very slowly” increase the conscription rate of Ultra-Orthodox students. However, it also carries with it a provision to lower the age of exemption from conscription from 26, to 21. This, which the Knesset said is “in order to encourage Ultra-Orthodox men to enter the workforce,” would lower significantly the number of people that could be called for service.

The bill has witnessed opposition from both the IDF and Defence Minister Gallant, who say it is insufficient to deal with the needs of the military. In turn, it has seen support from Netanyahu and many religious parties in the Knesset.

These two issues represent a notable divide between Netanyahu’s government and the Israeli military.