Israel Shifts Strategy in Gaza Conflict: Withdrawal and Future Plans

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January 11, 2024

Israel Shifts Strategy in Gaza Conflict: Withdrawal and Future Plans


  • The Israeli military has recently announced a shift in its approach to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. The withdrawal of thousands of troops and a transition from large-scale operations to a more targeted phase have raised questions about the motives behind this strategic change.

Why Israel is Withdrawing Troops:

Economic Considerations:

  • On January 1, Israel revealed its decision to temporarily withdraw some troops from Gaza, citing the need to revitalize its economy. The mobilization of over 350,000 reservists since the October 7 Hamas attack had taken a toll on the nation’s economy, with many leaving the workforce for military duty. The economic strain prompted Israel to make the decision to allow some reservists to return to their families and employment, aiming to ease the economic burden and rejuvenate the nation’s strength for future activities.

US Pressure and Strategic Shift:

  • The United States had been pressuring Israel to reduce the intensity of its attacks in Gaza. Last week, President Joe Biden urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to adopt a more surgical approach, utilizing special forces to target Hamas leaders and infrastructure. While the withdrawal of troops aligns with this shift, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari did not explicitly state whether the decision resulted from US pressure or a strategic reevaluation.

Implications and Future Plans:

Unveiling Future Operations:

  • The withdrawal comes amidst escalating tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militant group supported by Iran. The exact number of Israeli soldiers being called back remains undisclosed, but reservists from at least two brigades are expected to return home, while three brigades will undergo scheduled training. The focus of future operations will shift to Hamas’s southern and central strongholds, with a particular emphasis on areas like Khan Younis and Deir al Balah.

Uncertain Scaling Back:

  • It remains unclear if Israel is scaling back its overall operations in Gaza. Hagari noted a reduction in intensity in northern Gaza, while an anonymous senior official mentioned the preparation for an intense campaign in Gaza lasting “six months at least.” The goals include destroying Hamas and engaging in mopping-up missions against terrorists.

Civilian Impact:

  • As the conflict has already claimed the lives of nearly 22,000 people, mostly women and children, and displaced more than 85% of Gaza’s residents, questions arise about the impact of this strategic shift on civilians. The situation remains complex, with Israel striving to achieve its objectives while facing challenges in completely obliterating Hamas from the enclave.


  • In summary, Israel’s decision to withdraw troops from Gaza signifies a shift in strategy, driven by economic considerations, potential US influence, and a recalibration of military operations. The future trajectory of the conflict and its implications on civilians remain uncertain as the nation navigates through this dynamic phase of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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Israel Shifts Strategy in Gaza Conflict: Withdrawal and Future Plans | Vaid ICS Institute