A complex interplay of military, political, and humanitarian dynamics marks the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip. Here’s an overview of recent events of note. 

Graphics courtesy of The Institute for the Study of War.
  • Objective of the Axis of Resistance: This coalition, which includes groups like Hamas, aims to weaken the resolve of Israel’s political leadership and public against carrying out extensive ground operations in Gaza. Additionally, they seek to undermine the morale and resources of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) near Gaza.
  • Recent Truce Violations: Despite a temporary ceasefire, both Israel and Hamas reported infractions on November 28. Each side accused the other of being responsible, but neither escalated into a broader conflict. Notably, Palestinian militants executed attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against IDF forces, resulting in minor injuries to five soldiers. Despite these incidents, Hamas expressed commitment to the ceasefire.
  • Hostage-Prisoner Swaps: A fifth exchange took place under the ceasefire agreement. Hamas released Israeli and Thai hostages, while Israel freed Palestinian women and minors. This exchange was notable for the public involvement of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a first in such protocols.
  • Clashes at Ofer Prison: Violent confrontations occurred outside Ofer Prison, involving Israeli forces and Palestinians awaiting the release of prisoners. One Palestinian was killed, and several others were injured in these clashes.
  • Hamas’ Governance Issues: Reports indicate a breakdown in Hamas’ administrative control in Gaza, particularly in the south. This situation could complicate Israeli military operations by making it harder to coordinate the evacuation of civilians ahead of any actions.
  • Ceasefire Negotiations: Egypt and Qatar are reportedly attempting to broker a long-term ceasefire, which might involve significant concessions from both sides. Hamas would need to demilitarize and release all IDF hostages, while Israel would stop military operations and release Palestinian prisoners. However, the specifics of such an agreement, especially regarding Hamas’ demilitarization, remain unclear.
  • High-Level Talks: CIA Director William Burns and Israeli Mossad chief David Barnea met with Qatari officials to discuss building on the current truce and explore options for a more enduring ceasefire.
  • Fuel and Humanitarian Aid Issues: Reports from various Palestinian sources indicate challenges in delivering fuel and humanitarian aid, particularly to northern Gaza. These issues are causing concerns, particularly for essential services like hospitals and ambulances.
Gaza Clearing Map November 28,2023
Graphics courtesy of The Institute for the Study of War.

The West Bank

The recent campaign led by the Axis of Resistance, a coalition of militant groups, has been marked by a series of confrontations and engagements primarily in the West Bank. This campaign seems strategically aimed at diverting and engaging the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) within this region.

On November 28, there was an incident where Hamas militants engaged with Israeli troops in Tubas. This confrontation involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and firearms. During this event, the Israeli forces targeted a building where a Hamas member was reportedly hiding. Despite an assault on the building, the individual managed to escape. The Tubas wing of the al Qassem Brigades, affiliated with Hamas, issued a statement emphasizing their commitment to ongoing resistance against Israeli forces, indicating a protracted struggle.

On the same day, additional skirmishes occurred at various West Bank locations. These clashes involved unidentified Palestinian fighters who employed IEDs against Israeli forces in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem and also engaged in gunfire in three other towns. Concurrently, the IDF conducted night raids across the West Bank, resulting in the arrest of 13 individuals. During these operations, the IDF reported the confiscation of a variety of items, including firearms, knives, incendiary materials, and military gear, particularly in the Hebron area.

West Bank
Graphics courtesy of The Institute for the Study of War.

The Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon

Recent strategic developments in the Middle East have seen the Axis of Resistance, a coalition including Lebanese Hezbollah and other Iran-backed groups, tactically redirecting their military focus towards northern Israel. Notably, no direct attacks were reported on November 28, suggesting a strategic restraint or repositioning. This maneuver appears to be part of a larger preparatory effort for potential extensive operations within the region.

Meanwhile, the Axis of Resistance, with Iran at the forefront, has been demonstrating its capability and willingness to escalate conflicts against the United States and Israel on multiple fronts. This is evident from the recent threats by the Iraqi militia, Ashab al Kahf (AK), to increase drone and rocket attacks against U.S. forces in the Middle East. Similar sentiments have been expressed by other militias, such as Kataib Sayyid al Shuhada and Kataib Hezbollah. However, these groups have announced a temporary reduction in their operations, coinciding with the humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A significant development in the region is the deepening military cooperation between Russia and Iran. On November 28, Iran announced a deal with Russia for the acquisition of advanced military equipment, including Su-35 fighter jets and Mi-28 attack helicopters. This agreement underscores Iran’s long-term intent to enhance its military capabilities through Russian support. The timeline for the delivery of these military assets remains uncertain, reflecting historical delays in similar agreements.