Will Israel have a ground incursion in Rafah by April?
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resolved Apr 1
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NO

Ground incursion as they have now in Gaza, Han Yunis, Dier el Balah etc

not just special forces, but holding ground.

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I made a Yes/No for next month.

In my opinion, Netanyahu stalls until the hostage deal is getting close, then invades Rafah right before a hostage deal is about to go through.

@riverwalk3 Why would he do that? Do you think he just wants to look bad?

@nathanwei Stall for as much time as possible to he can remain in power. The public does not know what is actually going on in private in the hostage deal talks and how close one is actually to getting through. The Rafah invasion will likely occur eventually due to it having 75% approval with the Israeli public, though invading too soon could end the war early and cause Netanyahu to lose power.

@riverwalk3 Ah that makes sense. I don't think Hamas is able or willing to accept any sort of reasonable deal. Many hostages are held by PIJ or Gazans civilians or are dead so Hamas cannot even release them. I think there are a two-digit number of living hostages. Hamas is still demanding a full IDF withdrawal from Gaza. I don't expect any more serious hostage negotiations. It's true that Netanyahu's days are numbered and the sooner he wins the war the sooner there is an election. I don't know what the effect of a hostage deal would be on his popularity. It depends on what the deal looks like. But still I think it's a moot point and I don't expect any more hostage negotiations.

@riverwalk3 Wouldn’t Netanyahu want the hostage deal to go through if he is trying to maximize the length of the war? He can always invade Rafah afterward.

@nathanwei Neither side actually fighting the war wants a hostage deal (Netanyahu obviously not because it would collapse his coalition with Ben Gvir and Smoltich leaving, and Hamas because they could hold out for Hezbollah joining a regional war or hoping the rift between Biden and Netanyahu gets even bigger), but Biden really wants one since the war is hurting him politically, as well as to get a foreign policy victory that could help abate some of the senile, incompetent criticisms.

As such, it seems like the US is forcing Israel to agree to drafts even though Netanyahu does not actually want one, and they are trying to get Qatar to add pressure to Hamas to agree to one.

@Arky The coalition might immediately collapse after a hostage deal if Ben Gvir and Smoltich leave.

@riverwalk3 I am not sure that Biden should actually want a hostage deal, as that would prolong the war, and the last thing he needs is fighting in October.

I think Hamas doesn't want a hostage deal and cannot deliver one.

@riverwalk3 I made a market about the question of the coalition collapsing:

@riverwalk3 That would be a bit too obvious and would anger the Israeli center-left terribly. I think that Netanyahu is playing a game of tightrope between his far right and center coalition partners. Far right would leave him if he made a deal, and center would leave him if he doesn't, so he stalls. I think the longer term plan is to somehow blame the failure of talks on Hamas or someone else, than continue the war. Either that or get the far right to accept the deal.

I imagine that it's possible that the war continues later, but even if it does all sides have reasons to agree to a ceasefire:

  • Hamas can show it as a win

  • Israel can get the hostages back, and Netanyahu can pacify and center and left.

  • The US can pass it as a diplomatic achievement, and use the time to figure out how to get aid into Gaza before people starve en masse.

@Arky I made an unconditional version of your question a few days ago. Might be nice for comparison.

@Shump Rafah invasion has a 75% approval in public polling though, so it should happen at some point and the center collapsing the government shortly after the invasion would not be popular. Imo the reason why Netanyahu would not want to invade is that it might end the war too soon and or possibly lead to a hostage deal soon after.

Even if Hamas wants a win, it has reason to believe it can get a bigger win by holding out for longer, as Netanyahu's coalition gets increasingly fragmented and an increasingly desperate Biden adds even more pressure to Israel to accept any deal. A deal that the far right will accept seems unlikely, as any deal will be worse than the 40 days that Israel is proposing and Hamas will likely increase demands as Israel fractures further and Biden gets increasingly less supportive of Israel. I do not even know why they are asking for 40 days, as it seems better to do a 7 days for 7 hostages type of deal and try to extend it.

Also, I am not sure if the center is likely to leave Netanyahu, as collapsing the government during the war is still not popular, and the center likely cares about electability concerns more. The main issue for Netanyahu is that a deal might not fully be in his control (if the delegation eventually accepts something).

@riverwalk3 I think you're misinterpreting the polls. People want to invade Rafah, but not at the cost of the hostages. You've got to understand that most Israelis see the war as supporting the effort to return the hostages, not as two opposing goals. It's even more than that. Our politicians told us that we are going to war to save the hostages. What does it even mean if Netanyahu rejects a deal?

The center cares greatly about the hostages. If Netanyahu does something that clearly compromises them, I can guarantee you that the center will leave. Gantz's support is already shaky. Only the far right believes in war for conquest's sake.

About Hamas, perhaps they could get a bigger win, but their people are literally dying, so I'm sure they are operating under a sense of urgency. Just last week Deff's second-in-command died. Haniyeh was hoping for an intifada to happen in the West Bank in the Ramadan, but that didn't happen.

@Shump Israel is stating a goal to eliminate Hamas, so the hostages are the only leverage they have left. From the perspective of Hamas, making a deal now would just mean that Israeli gets its hostages now and finishes off Hamas later.

Israel, at least its stated goal to the public, also wants to finish off Hamas and prevent another October 7, else they would just agree with Hamas to a permanent ceasefire with releasing all of the hostages. Maybe the best option for Netanyahu is to do something similar to its February 11 Rafah operation to rescue as many hostages as possible.

Netanyahu says Israel to press on with Rafah assault plan

"Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting that Israel would push into Rafah, the last relatively safe place in the tiny, crowded Gaza enclave after more than five months of war, despite international pressure for Israel to avoid civilian casualties. 'We will operate in Rafah. This will take several weeks, and it will happen,' he said, without clarifying if he meant the assault would last for weeks or would begin in weeks."

Amid deepening tensions, White House weighs how to respond if Israel defies Biden with Rafah invasion

"The Biden administration set a March 24 deadline for Israel to provide written assurance [to protect Palestinian civilians], followed by U.S. government review, that its use of American weapons is in accordance with international law. Failing to comply could force the issue of military support and potentially push the longtime alliance into new territory."

If Netanyahu still cares about this written assurance, it might be after April

This might come down to the wire, so could you clarify what exactly counts as a ground incursion in Rafah @CarmelHadar? For example, does the resolution criteria in the following market involving Israeli troops operating in six specific locations seem reasonable?

/mirrorbot/metaculus-will-israel-expand-its-gr

funny things is, i think its gonna happen after the Ramadan, mid april. I should have ask to the end of april, forgot about the Ramadan.

@CarmelHadar What makes you think Israel will wait that long?

@TimothyJohnson5c16

Seeing the actual decrease in military activity since the Ramadan started. It seems that Israel doesn't want to push to much at that time.

If they would ignored Ramadan it should have started already, Han Yunis is conquered, and brigade 98 can go to Rafah now.

opened a Ṁ500 NO at 50% order

@Arky Any takers?

Before April or before the end of April?

@Arky of you not sure u can seen the resolution date.

Before April.

bought Ṁ25 YES

@CarmelHadar it's best practice to detail everything in the description

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