Israel’s Limited Ground Invasion Begins

Happy Thursday! To best pay our respects to Bob Knight—the fiery, Hall of Fame college basketball coach who passed away last night at the age of 83—we’d like to observe a moment soundtracked by the song he requested be played after he broke the record for winningest Division I men’s basketball coach 15 years ago. “I’ve simply tried to do what I think is best,” Knight said. “I wish I would have had a better answer, a better way, at times. But just like [Frank Sinatra] said, I did it my way, and when I look back on it, I don’t think my way was all that bad.”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories 

  • Egypt on Wednesday opened the Rafah Crossing, allowing hundreds of foreign nationals and some injured Palestinians to flee Gaza through the passageway on its shared border—the first non-hostages allowed to leave the Strip since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7. Israeli airstrikes hit the Jabaliya refugee camp for the second day in a row yesterday, as part of the IDF’s effort to uproot Hamas terrorists and military infrastructure in the region. Citing B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, the Washington Post reported this week that violence perpetrated against Palestinians in the West Bank—at the hands of settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)—has also increased. More than 100 instances of extremist settlers attacking civilians have been reported since October 7, and some instances have been filmed by IDF soldiers—prompting a military investigation and the dismissal of at least one soldier. “The [soldiers’] conduct that emerges from these scenes is grave and inconsistent with the values of the IDF,” the IDF said. On Thursday morning, an Israeli man was reportedly shot and later died while driving on a West Bank highway, prompting an IDF search for the perpetrators behind the attack.
  • The Biden administration is scheduled to hold informal nuclear arms-control talks with China on Monday, the first such negotiations since the Obama administration. The meeting comes as U.S. officials have attempted to re-engage their Chinese counterparts following a diplomatic chill earlier this year. A Pentagon report released last month revealed that China is building up its nuclear arsenal at a faster pace than previously thought, and possessed more than 500 nuclear warheads as of this May. The talks are expected to clarify China’s nuclear plans, but not broach arsenal reduction.
  • Central bankers at the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady following their meeting on Wednesday, maintaining a target range between 5.25 to 5.5 percent just as they did in September and June. The past few months are now the longest period without a rate hike since the Fed began raising rates to combat high inflation in March 2022. Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled the central bank could possibly be at the end of its tightening, but was careful not to rule an additional increase out should economic indicators change. “The process of getting inflation sustainably down to 2 percent has a long way to go,” Powell said at a press conference yesterday.
  • The judge overseeing Colorado’s 14th Amendment case alleging former President Donald Trump should be excluded from the ballot election rejected an attempt by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss the case on Wednesday. Judge Sarah Wallace made clear that her decision did not suggest she’d ultimately rule one way or the other. “I’m denying the motion for directed verdict because in order to grant the motion for directed verdict, I would have to decide many legal issues that I’m simply not prepared to decide today,” she said in response to the motion to dismiss. 
  • The House voted down a resolution to expel GOP Rep. George Santos from the body on Wednesday night, with 179 voting in favor and 213 against. 24 Republicans voted to oust Santos while 31 Democrats voted against the expulsion, citing concerns over the precedent of expelling a member of Congress before a criminal conviction or a recommendation from the House Ethics Committee. Committee Chairman Michael Guest, a Mississippi Republican, said in a statement on Tuesday that he will announce the panel’s “next course of action” in its investigation into Santos by November 17. 
  • Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado confirmed on Wednesday that he would not run for reelection.“Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen,” the five-term congressman said in a resignation video released yesterday. “These insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law.” Longtime GOP Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who currently chairs the Appropriations Committee, also announced yesterday she would retire at the end of her term. 
  • The Texas Rangers won their first World Series in franchise history on Wednesday, shutting out the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 5-0 victory. The Rangers, who were undefeated on the road in October, beat the D-backs four games to one in what was reportedly the least-watched World Series in history.

‘The Stronghold of Evil’

IDF vehicles drive on a road on October 31, 2023 in Southern Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
IDF vehicles drive on a road on October 31, 2023 in Southern Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not mince words last week as he outlined the imminent next phase of his country’s war against Hamas terrorists. “Citizens of Israel, yesterday evening additional ground soldiers entered the gates of Gaza, the entrance to the stronghold of evil,” he said Friday evening in a televised address. “This is the second stage of a war whose goals are clear: destroy the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and bring the hostages home.”

As the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) transitions into the next stage of the war against Hamas—now on its 27th day—the invasion of the Gaza Strip has taken a different shape than some military observers originally expected. Even as the IDF moves more incisively into the Strip, military leadership must confront the difficult reality of war against an enemy that has made its base underground, enmeshed in dense civilian infrastructure. Meanwhile, the threat of a second—or third, or fourth—front still looms as Iran’s proxies in the region grow more emboldened and aggressive.

As Netanyahu said, Israel’s aim is to destroy Hamas—the terrorist organization that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007—and retrieve the more than 200 hostages (of whom perhaps ten are American citizens) taken to Gaza during the organization’s October 7 attack. And while the goals are straightforward, their execution will be much more difficult. The hostage situation remains particularly shrouded in mystery, with some 200 people being held by Hamas and another 50 or so by other terrorist groups in Gaza. Only four hostages have been released thus far: an American mother and daughter, and two elderly Israeli women. One hostage, an Israeli army private, has been rescued, and proof-of-life has been provided for four others, who appeared in a Hamas-filmed video this week and two weeks ago. This leaves hundreds unaccounted for.

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