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The war in Gaza has entered a deadly new phase – but what comes next?

As the war continues along its current course, it creates new dilemmas for Israel’s allies, writes Donald Macintyre – and they may find themselves having to answer some tough questions

Saturday 28 October 2023 18:46 BST
Palestinians stand amid the ruins of a building in Gaza City after it was bombed by Israel
Palestinians stand amid the ruins of a building in Gaza City after it was bombed by Israel (AP)

Whether or not this is the “something different” that an Israeli military spokesman, Lt Colonel Richard Hecht, speculated 10 days ago might be an alternative to a full-scale ground invasion, is impossible to say. And probably would be even if most of the communications between Gaza and the outside world had not now been cut.

In one sense, however, it hardly matters. What is clear is that a new phase of an already devastating Israel Defence Forces operation has begun, mainly at present in the northern Gaza Strip. Armoured ground forces backed by heavily intensified aerial bombardment and artillery have entered the territory in earnest. The already horrifying death toll, which may now count Israeli soldiers in its numbers, can only climb.

The move could yet risk a regional escalation, with Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border in the front line. And it will probably intensify calls for a ceasefire already made by Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, with which Israel signed its historic “normalisation” treaty in 2020, and from Saudi Arabia, with whom it was negotiating before Hamas’s grisly and unprecedented atrocities against the 1,400 Israelis – mostly defenceless civilians – who were murdered on 7 October.

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