Israel-Gaza Update: Merkava Tanks Roll Down Gaza Beach (Updated)

Israel’s armor has pushed deeper into Gaza as the IDF’s ground operation, which officials say will take a long time, gains momentum.

byTyler Rogoway|
Merkava tanks roll on the Gaza beach


Israeli forces have pushed deeper into areas of Gaza as its major ground operation spins up for what by all accounts will be a protracted campaign. This included incursions along the northern stretch of the strip, including along the beach, and farther south on its eastern flank.

A satellite image showing the northwestern corner of the Gaza Strip, including beach areas on its Mediterranean coastline. (Google Earth)

The IDF has published imagery of its operations in Gaza, including shots of Merkeva tanks and armored vehicles rolling on the beach in northern Gaza (seen at the top of this article and below). Some of the Merkavas have add-on cage-type armor on top of their turrets, primarily intended to protect against weaponized drones, which you can read more about here.


Other video clips that have been released show mechanized operations alongside infantry with heavy smokescreens being employed:

The Israeli Army's armored bulldozers have been working overtime, as well. They have been seen clearing openings into the Gaza Strip, as well as obstacles and other barriers inside the fence:

An IDF bulldozer is seen at right among other Israeli vehicles advancing along a section of beach in the Gaza Strip. (IDF)

Major threats for early opening operations are many, but those posed by anti-tank guided missiles are particularly pointed.

Trey Yingst provides some good color from near the front:

Netanyahu, who has just declared the current conflict to be Israel's "second war of independence," went biblical with his rhetoric during a speech yesterday, referencing the Amalek, enemies of the ancient Israelites described in the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh. This has raised some eyebrows.

The embattled head of state is facing increasing internal strife over the failure to see the Hamas attack coming and in regards to who is to blame for that massive oversight. There appears to be a growing divide between Netanyahu's office and the upper echelons of Israel's intel apparatus,

On the northern border with Lebanon, hostilities continue to increase. Israel's latest Tweet about operations there states:

"IDF forces attacked a terrorist squad a short time ago that tried to launch anti-tank missiles in the Yakinton area. In addition, a remotely manned aircraft attacked a terrorist identified as a drone operator moving towards Israeli territory in the border area. Also, a terrorist who approached the border area was killed with a spear [likely projectile and lost in the machine translation]. Since the beginning of the fighting, IDF forces under the Northern Command have foiled terrorist squads in Lebanese territory, most of them before they had completed their mission and fired into the territory of the country. Infantry forces, commandos, tanks and artillery along with air force aircraft, continue to be on high defense readiness and work at all times to remove the threat. IDF forces continue defensive activities alongside preparations for carrying out additional operational plans."

Hezbollah rocket launches from Lebanon have increased, with some of them impacting residential areas in northern Israel. Axios is reporting that Israel intel sees the Lebanese militant group increasing its operations.

Hezbollah benefactor Iran is sending additional ominous, but vague messages about actions it might take following Israel's invasion of Gaza. Since the latest war began, Iran has stated repeatedly that such a move would be a 'red line,' but so far no major moves have been clearly made. Now, Iran's President says the red line was crossed, but gives no indication of a response to crossing that red line beyond additional nebulous talk of an "axis of resistance" which, as of now, is composed of its proxies.

Pressure is increasing on the U.S. government to factor more heavily the innocent lives being lost in Israel's Gaza operation. We have heard rumblings behind the scenes of the White House pressing Israel to decrease the scope of their operation there, but now we are seeing more overt messaging from the administration about the humanitarian toll on Gaza.

The U.S. continues to flow huge amounts of equipment and some personnel to the Middle East. Our plane tracking friends have been busy this weekend watching all the USAF heavies make their way across the globe to support contingency plans.

Now there are reports that two of the three water pipelines into Gaza that Israel controls have been turned back on. However, due to the limited connectivity from inside Gaza to the outside world, confirmations of details about its water supplies are still unclear. What is clear is that any semblance of order will begin to deteriorate as the basic necessities of life go from heavily rationed and overall scarce to non-existent. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned today that the "situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour." Less than a dozen aid trucks entered Gaza today, just a tiny fraction of the usual flow even before the war began.

There is also the question of Israel's bombing campaign's impact on infrastructure and how long it may take to rebuild. Tunnels are a huge focus of this operation and the aerial bombardment of them on a large scale can also destroy sewers, water mains, and other critical infrastructure. This in turn could leave some areas still cut off long after water starts flowing again and the electricity is turned back on.

As for those tunnels, also referred to by the IDF as the "Gaza Metro," they are being emphasized more heavily in Israel's information operations with every passing day.

An incident broke out on the tarmac in Russia's autonomous Dagestan region, as an anti-Israel mob stormed the airport and a flight that had landed from Tel Aviv.

Update: 3:00 PM PST—

Jordan is asking the U.S. to deploy Patriot batteries to help with air defense of the country. The U.S. has conducts major aviation operations out of an airbase in Jordan and At Tanf, a hub of U.S. operations in Syria, is right on the border with Jordan. Two batteries would be needed just to protect these two locales robustly from ballistic missile threats and those from low-flying drones and cruise missiles. Other batteries would be needed to offer Jordan more protection overall. Patriot batteries are a precious resource that is already being stretched considerable. And yes, this is yet another sign of worry the conflict will expand.

A big speech from Hezbollah's leader is coming this Friday.

Meanwhile, it is circulating that Hezbollah's leadership is calling out Iran for inaction, including questioning why Iran has stockpiled weapons under Hezbollah's banner if they do not use them now. We are trying to confirm the authenticity of this video, but this would be a bizarre fracture in this incredibly tight relationship if true.

The U.S. has conducted additional airstrikes against Iranian proxies in Syria:

This is generally a good breakdown of U.S. and NATO naval assets in the region:

There is chatter now going viral that a ballistic missile was intercepted over the Red Sea. We cannot confirm them at this time.

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