The U.S. Military has deployed 5000 personnel to participate in Israeli operations in Gaza against local militia groups, according to reports from a number of Middle Eastern media sources. This has coincided with the announcement that the Israeli military had expanded its ground operations in Gaza following initial setbacks and the loss of armoured vehicles to the Hamas militia’s heavy weapons. As Israeli political leaders have increasingly warned of a long war, Iranian sources claimed the new offensives were intended “to split the Gaza Strip into two or three sections and cut off the connection among the Palestinian resistance forces before launching the next stage of the war.” These reports follow a statement from retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor on October 25 that preceding Israeli special forces raids into Gaza had been accompanied by American special forces. “In the last 24 hours or so, some of our Special Ops forces and Israeli Special Ops forces went into Gaza to reconnoiter, to plan for where they might want to go to free hostages and make an impact, and they were shot to pieces and took heavy losses, as I understand it,” he stated. With American officers confirmed to be advising Israeli forces to support the offensive, America’s NATO ally France has indicated it would be willing to join a wider Western coalition for military action against Hamas.
Member of the Hamas political leadership Ali Barakeh indicated that the party perceived the United States as becoming increasingly heavily involved in the Israeli war effort, stating that the Palestinian political group: “didn’t expect this much of a response” from Washington. “An Israeli response? Yes, we expected that… But what we’re seeing now is the entrance of the U.S. into the battle, and this we didn’t count on.” Although not confirming its operations in Gaza, the U.S. has moved to expand military facilities in Israel, struck Hamas aligned forces in Syria and Iraq, and massively escalated its military presence in the region while replenishing Israeli military stocks. America’s NATO ally Turkey has also seen jihadist militia groups under its influence such as the Al Nusra front escalate attacks on Hamas’ ally Syria, diverting attention away from the Israeli front.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on October 28 that regarding military operations “we are only at the beginning of the road. The battle within the Gaza Strip will be difficult and long.” With Israeli forces losing significant quantities of equipment in the conflict’s initial days, Hamas forces have shown levels of military competence far greater than in previous conflicts raising speculation regarding possible high level training from Hezbollah or Iran. While the United States increases arms supplies to Israel, Hamas’ strikes on Israeli armour have been widely reported by Western sources to be making use of North Korean heavy weapons such as rocked propelled grenades and 122mm artillery rounds, some of which have been seized by Israeli forces.