Analysis: Israeli forces left Khan Younis, but the IDF remains an hour away from any operational location, and tactical maneuvering in Gaza will continue, with surprise raids as seen in Al Shifa; Instead of remaining static targets in the field, soldiers will adopt a more dynamic stance, also allowing refugees to leave Rafah

The 98th Division’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is intended to allow the continuation of maneuvers there, employing a strategy of swift strikes and rapid relocations. This mirrors the tactics of the 162nd Division which, a month ago, ostensibly withdrew from the northern Strip before launching a surprise raid on Al Shifa Hospital. Similar approaches are planned for other areas of Gaza.

IDF in Khan Younis
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Specifics cannot be divulged, but the 98th Division’s exit from Khan Younis is designed, in part, to open up opportunities for unexpected, intelligence-guided strikes that will catch Hamas terrorists off guard. This tactic was recently successful at a Gaza City hospital, capturing terrorists who believed IDF activities there had ceased.

Relocating the 98th Division units from Khan Younis puts them less than an hour from any target location, including Rafah. It’s important to note that all intelligence, air and ground fire resources currently active in Khan Younis will remain in place, allowing uninterrupted intelligence and operational activities.

The decision to alter the IDF’s positioning doesn’t indicate an end to the ongoing transformation. Rather, it signifies the IDF’s assessment that the current operational and intelligence gains have plateaued. The shift to a new strategy offers two key advantages: First, it reduces the forces’ vulnerability to terrorist attacks by avoiding static positions, and second, it enables them to reach any current location in under an hour.

This strategy does come with its own set of risks, such as the potential activation of underground rocket launchers by terrorists or efforts to restore parts of their tunnel network. The IDF is aware of these possibilities and, as per field commanders, they have robust intelligence and operational strategies to counter such scenarios.

The 98th Division has essentially pioneered a novel battle approach, advancing both over and beneath the ground, yielding significant results, primarily in gathering intelligence on hostage-takers. The forces are now gearing up to sustain military pressure on the area established by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Khan Younis. This will be achieved using surprise raids that will not only generate new intelligence but also create strategic leverage over Sinwar.

Refugees heading back to Khan Younis

Hamas likely has a clear understanding of the IDF’s strategies. The current pressure stems not from the perpetual IDF presence posing a threat to forces in Khan Younis, but from the fear of surprise raids like the one on Al Shifa, which dealt a severe blow to Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip.

The maneuvering in Gaza continues, albeit by different means. The evacuation from Khan Younis of the 98th Division’s forces paves the way for the next phase of combat and expedites the generation of new incentives for Sinwar to negotiate a hostage deal. Understanding that the IDF can swiftly penetrate any location, Hamas is constrained in its movements and in reestablishing its military and civil authority in the region without assuming risks. Meanwhile, the urgency for the IDF to halt the intense combat in Gaza is diminishing.

It is important to note one more issue: Highly reliable sources say that the move of the 98th Division tout of the area has been planned for several weeks, and has nothing to do with the political crisis in relations with the U.S. government.

As reported by Ynetnews