Haaretz said that the killing of 21 Israeli army soldiers in one incident proves the danger of ground operations that use large quantities of explosives, and also calls into question the feasibility of establishing a buffer zone on the Gaza border.
The Israeli newspaper explained – in a report by Anshel Pfeiffer – that Monday's operation was not the first time that Israeli WhatsApp and Telegram groups were abuzz with dark rumors about terrible news from within. GazaSometimes it is based on reality, and sometimes it is incited by hostile sources, but what was revealed on Tuesday morning was true and was beyond belief.
January 22 was the “bloodiest day for Israel” since October 7, when 3 paratroopers were killed west of Khan Yunis, out of 24 soldiers in 24 hours. But the other 21 are all reserve forces, 19 of them from the 261st Infantry Brigade, and two from the 205th Armored Brigade that works alongside them. They were killed in Al-Maghazi refugee camp, just 600 meters from the border.
After expelling almost all the residents, the Israeli army was working in Al-Maghazi to demolish buildings and tunnels. Two soldiers were killed inside a tank that was securing the force. Then explosive materials exploded inside the buildings that the infantry force was inside and was preparing to destroy, resulting in the death of 19 soldiers.
The direct cause of the explosions is still under investigation, especially since 6 soldiers were killed on January 8, in another early explosion, when Israeli forces were trying to destroy a tunnel under the Bureij camp.
Whether the cause was the fire of the Islamic Resistance Movement (agitation) Or just the type of accidents when high explosive materials are used and near tremendous firepower, this is the type of accidents that will continue – as the newspaper says – and cause more human casualties than actual combat.
Senior Israeli army officers have admitted that attempts to destroy as much of Hamas' military infrastructure, tunnels and buildings as possible, before the Israeli army reduces its presence, must be costly, and on January 22 the price was 21 dead soldiers.
The newspaper asked: Is what happened part of a broader plan to create a 1,000-meter buffer zone on Israel’s borders? To respond that soldiers and officers talked about this buffer zone, and work on it was evident in the nearby areas in the northern sector, where all the streets were leveled, even though international law does not permit such areas.
Although the Israeli government has assured the Biden administration and other allies that it does not intend to occupy any part of the Gaza Strip, and that once Hamas is destroyed and the war ends, it will leave, the Israeli army will insist that the buffer zone is temporary, but it is difficult for an Israeli government to announce a complete withdrawal from it, noting that Tunnels that the army did not discover in recent months could be used to operate from beneath the buffer zone.
Haaretz concluded that in the absence of any clear strategic direction from the Netanyahu government, which has proven its inability to even hold a ministerial discussion about the “day after” policy for its war on Gaza, the only solution that the Israeli army can reach at the present time is dangerous, as are the demolitions that will continue. In causing casualties, a temporary buffer zone that may or may not serve its purpose becomes semi-permanent.