White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that Israel will decide on its Gaza strategy in response to media reports that said the US was urging a delay to the ground invasion of Gaza.
The New York Times reported that the US advised delaying the ground offensive to buy time for hostage negotiations and allow more humanitarian aid to enter the besieged Gaza Strip. The report said the US also wanted more time to deploy additional military assets to the region as attacks on US forces are expected to increase once Israel invades Gaza.
Israel’s Army Radio reported Monday that Israel had decided to delay the invasion to allow more US forces to deploy to the region, but the report hasn’t been confirmed. According to The Times of Israel, Kirby said Israel’s political and military leaders will make the decisions on Israel’s Gaza operations and that the US is only asking questions. A source told The Times of Israel that the US does not intend to pressure Israel on its military strategy publicly.
The Times of Israel also reported that the Israeli military is eager to launch its ground invasion of Gaza and is hoping the Israeli cabinet will soon give the order. The report said that the military “has told the government that it is fully prepared for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and believes it can achieve the goals set out for it, even at the risk of heavy casualties to soldiers, and amid ongoing attacks by Hezbollah in the north.”
The Israeli military is concerned that if Hamas releases more hostages, it would lead to a delay in the ground invasion. They believe an invasion would pressure Hamas to release captives, although they could be killed in the fighting. Later on Monday, Hamas released two more hostages, two women ages 79 and 85.