Trouble in the Gaza Strip

The ongoing strife surrounding the Gaza Strip reveals a multi-faceted effort, with the Axis of Resistance aiming to undermine the Israeli political and military morale and eroding their willingness to initiate or sustain major operations within the region. The latest round of hostilities on October 30 saw Palestinian militias, spearheaded by Hamas’ al Qassem Brigades and PIJ’s Saraya al Quds, maintaining a consistent rate of indirect fire assaults into Israeli territories, similar to the previous day’s activities.

Israeli forces, on the flip side, orchestrated a route clearance operation, transitioning from the vicinity of Juhor ad Dik to the strategic Salah al-Din road in the Gaza Strip, albeit temporarily. This maneuver aligns with the broader Israeli military strategy of deploying compact units to seize “limited areas,” paving the way for subsequent reinforcement by larger forces and armored divisions.

The day’s military endeavors also witnessed action in the northwestern Gaza Strip, where the al-Qassem Brigades and the National Resistance Brigades (associated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) purportedly confronted IDF units. Various munitions and tactics such as mortars, sniper fire, anti-tank weaponry, and machine guns were reportedly utilized by Palestinian factions to challenge IDF’s advancements around Beit Lahia and other ingress points into the Strip.

Hamas, through its media channels, continues to portray an image of Palestinian militants gaining the upper hand against the IDF, supposedly derailing the IDF’s operational objectives. Meanwhile, Israeli forces, demonstrating a phased approach, are cautiously advancing by capturing “limited areas” through small, agile forces to be followed by larger contingents.

A notable event unfolded on October 29, with a joint operation by Israeli special forces and Shin Bet personnel leading to the rescue of IDF Private Uri Magidish within the Gaza Strip. Orchestrated in a relatively secluded sector of the northern Gaza Strip, this operation was cited as being meticulously planned over several days by the Israeli defense apparatus, showcasing a glimpse into the intricate military dynamics enveloping the region.

ISW Gaza Map
Graphics used with permission of the Institute for the Study of War.

War in the West Bank

In the midst of the Axis of Resistance’s strategy, a key objective has been to channel the focus of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) towards the West Bank, ensuring their resources are anchored there. Following this narrative, on October 30, a significant IDF operation unfolded in Jenin, aimed at diminishing the capabilities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) within the West Bank. This operation led to the elimination of Wiam Iyad Hanon, a high-ranking PIJ commander and the founding figure of the Jenin Battalion, which is seen as a collective of various militia factions predominantly aligned with the PIJ.

On the same day, there were reports of two instances where Palestinian militants employed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Jenin, with PIJ asserting that these IEDs inflicted damage on Israeli armored vehicles. The Critical Threats Project – Institute for the Study of War (CTP-ISW), however, could not independently corroborate the damage or casualty claims tied to these IED attacks.

The CTP-ISW has marked a notable uptick in Palestinian militant activities around Jenin in the preceding months. Back on October 13, PIJ declared its focus on targeting Israeli forces and establishments in the vicinity of Jenin. Additionally, in July 2023, PIJ’s local branch in Jenin revealed their possession of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), a type of explosive designed in Iran and previously utilized against US forces in Iraq by Iranian-backed militias under Iranian guidance.