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Vittert’s War Notes: Ground Invasion Delay

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NewsNation’s Chief Washington Anchor Leland Vittert was a foreign correspondent for four years in Jerusalem. He provides expert analysis and insight into the Israel-Hamas war in the Oct. 24 edition of War Notes.

(NewsNation) — The news in one line: Ground invasion delay — Hamas and Iran continue to win.

Four years in the Middle East taught me that the area is ruled like an old-fashioned sandbox: Either you punch the bully in the nose or he keeps taking your lunch money. 

Even as President Joe Biden’s administration admits Iran is “actively facilitating” attacks on United States military bases, the administration refuses to punch Iran back. Do they think Iran will stop because we ask nicely? 

Every day that Iran and its proxies continue to get away with the attacks of Oct. 7, keep their hostages and attack U.S. bases, is another day the cost to restore deterrence goes up. It’s one more day that American prestige goes down. It’s one more day that Iran’s influence in the Middle East grows. It’s one more day that America’s allies in the Middle East question whether we are really that.

At the Helm: President Biden’s National Security Advisor is out with his 7000-word treatise, The World According to Jake Sullivan. He argues that rallying the global powers to stop climate change will determine if America remains the dominant global power. This is the same person who bragged three weeks ago that the Middle East is quieter than it had been in decades. 

Israel’s delay of a ground invasion could be for a number or a combination of reasons, but every day they wait, public opinion continues to turn against them and toward the Palestinians. These are some of the possible explanations: 

  • American pressure. The Biden administration appears to be using hostages as pressure on Israel to delay. The President is feeling increased pressure from his left flank. 
  • Military reality. The Israeli battle plans for the Gaza ground invasion were a few years old and built on inherently flawed intel regarding Hamas’s weapons and abilities. All of that must be rewritten. 
  • The need to reinforce the northern front appears to be over. 

The DailyMail’s reporting speaks to more political reasons for the delay rather than military reasons.

Israel’s military commanders know that the longer they wait the more time Hamas has to prepare, plus the more scrutiny there will be on them once they go over the berm. 

The Times of Israel reports, “The army is concerned that further hostage releases by Hamas could lead the political leadership to delay a ground incursion or even halt it midway.”

Israel can’t wait that long. The ‘67 war began because Israel couldn’t keep calling up its reserves over and over again. The entire country is now mobilized and on war footing. Businesses are closed since hundreds of thousands of reserve troops are on the border in their tanks. 

We are reaching an inflection point. Hamas and Iran are playing this perfectly by offering to release hostages in exchange for trivial sounding concessions (like a six hour ceasefire) when they are actually demanding more behind the scenes. 

Watch in the coming days for internal political pressure to turn on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s number one goal in life is staying in power. Biden and his administration know that and are playing Netanyahu better than he is playing Biden. 

United Kingdom prime minister Rishi Sunak is much tougher about the pro-Palestinian crowd than the Biden administration is.  

A tweet read, “At the Queers for Palestine leftist protest in New York City, the crowd is led to shout, ‘F— Israel.’ Who wants to tell them that in ‘Palestine’ they execute gay people, as does Iran, Hamas’s sponsor. 

The Washington Post reports contingency planning for a massive evacuation of United States citizens from Israel and Lebanon. 

As we said last night, World War III is a real possibility. Clearly, the Pentagon agrees. 

News Nation’s own Robert Sherman is doing incredible work and reports from Tel Aviv that the Israeli air force is dropping leaflets over Gaza offering money for intelligence on the hostages. 

There are two ways to look at this: 

1. It shows just how bad Israel’s signals and human intelligence networks in Gaza are. For years, Israel’s Shin Bet (the rough equivalent of the American FBI) bragged about their visibility into Gaza. Oct. 7 shattered that. This is embarrassing for the Israelis on many levels. At the same time, it underscores how little they know about Hamas’s military capabilities before a ground invasion. 

2. It could also be disinformation to make Hamas think they know nothing while preparing a massive and daring hostage rescue. 

Nothing in the Middle East is as it seems. 

Tune into “On Balance with Leland Vittert” weeknights at 7/6C on NewsNationFind your channel here.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of NewsNation.