Gov’t Surprised by IDF’s ‘Unacceptable’ Tactical Pauses; PM Told Fighting to Continue as Planned

By Yoni Weiss

An Israeli soldier checks a tank near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel, Thursday. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Scathing reactions followed the IDF spokesperson’s announcement Sunday regarding “tactical military pauses” in the fighting in the Rafah area of the southern Gaza Strip, which was interpreted to mean a daily ceasefire from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. until further notice. The move was intended to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza but was quickly met with criticism in Israel.

According to a diplomatic source, when the Prime Minister heard the morning reports about an 11-hour daily humanitarian pause, he turned to his military secretary and clarified that it was unacceptable.

After clarification, the Prime Minister was informed that there was no change in the Israeli military’s policy, and the fighting in Rafah would continue as planned, the source said. The source noted that the political echelon was surprised by the announcement from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and the Israeli military, claiming the issue was never discussed or approved by the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet. Following immediate criticism after the announcement’s publication, the Israeli army was forced to issue a clarification statement.

IDF spokesperson Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari, wrote on social media: “There is no cessation of fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, and the fighting in Rafah continues. Also, there has been no change in the delivery of goods into the Gaza Strip. The route for carrying the goods will be open during the day in coordination with international organizations for the transportation of humanitarian aid only.”

The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson said, “As part of the Israeli military’s ongoing efforts to increase the flow of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip, and after discussions with the U.N. and international organizations, it was decided that effective yesterday and until further notice, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., tactical and localized military activity will cease for humanitarian purposes along the road from Kerem Shalom to Salah al-Din Street and northward.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich published a strongly worded text on his social media account: “A few words on this morning’s absurd announcement by the Coordinator of Government Activities about a ‘humanitarian pause’ in Rafah: The way the humanitarian effort in the Gaza Strip has been managed, with most aid reaching Hamas and helping it maintain civilian control over the Strip in direct contradiction to the war’s objectives, has been wrong for months.”

He continued, assigning responsibility for the war’s outcome to the Israeli military’s conduct, even sharply criticizing the Prime Minister: “It was wrong before, and it’s wrong now. For months, I’ve been warning on every platform that this is one of the reasons for the war’s prolongation and the resounding strategic failure threatening to erase the bravery of our fighters and field commanders, as well as their incredible tactical professionalism and successes. The IDF chief of staff and defense minister have adamantly refused for six months the only path to victory: conquering the strip and temporarily imposing military rule until Hamas is destroyed. Sadly, Prime Minister Netanyahu either doesn’t want to or cannot force this upon them.”

According to Smotrich, “This morning’s disconnected announcement in the foreign media about a ‘humanitarian pause’ along the aid supply route from Kerem Shalom to the European hospital in the center of the Strip did not reflect any change on the ground. This route has existed since the beginning of Operation Rafah and is intended to allow the entry of aid by international organizations, in line with the flawed existing approach.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also rushed to attack the announcement of the tactical pause, saying, “Whoever decided on a ‘tactical pause’ for humanitarian passage, especially as our finest soldiers are falling in battle, is a fool and an idiot who should no longer remain in their position. Unfortunately, this move was not brought before the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet, contradicting its decisions. It is time to abandon the concept and stop the delusional, crazed approach that only brings us more casualties and losses.”

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