Former Israeli Military Spokesman Paints Grim Picture of Fighting

By John Mercury October 9, 2023

A former spokesman for Israel’s military gave one of the bluntest assessments of the situation in Israel on Sunday, warning that it would take hours or longer to reclaim all the towns in southern Israel nearly 48 hours after Hamas militants launched a surprise attack. He also claimed that the military had sent a large number of troops to the southern border to prepare for what appeared to be a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

“The picture and the situation in Israel is a dire one,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a reservist in the Israel Defense Forces, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday. The official Israeli Defense Forces account on X posted a link to his video statement. While not an official spokesman anymore, Mr. Conricus has been actively updating Israelis about Israel’s war against Hamas since Saturday. He said that the military had sent at least 100,000 reservists to southern Israel near the border with Gaza.

“We have amassed around 100,000 reserve troops who are currently in Southern Israel who are preparing to execute the task that the Israeli government has designated the IDF to do,” he said. “Our job is to make sure that at the end of this war, Hamas will no longer have any military capabilities to threaten Israeli civilians with.”

About 1,000 Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on Saturday shortly after the militant organization launched a series of surprise rocket attacks on Israeli cities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a state of war on Saturday as militants captured dozens of towns in southern Israel and attacked a music festival. They took at least 150 hostages, according to the Israeli authorities.

Mr. Netanyahu has told Israelis to prepare for a long war that will shift to “offensive” operations soon, a reference some have taken to mean that the military will send ground troops into Gaza.

“Unfortunately, and this is the probably the most dominant factor that will shape the activities for the future, there is a very large amount of Israeli civilians and soldiers held inside Gaza.”

Mr. Conricus stepped into the international spotlight in 2021 when as one of the military’s top spokesmen he announced the beginning of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza that had not actually occurred. He then apologized, saying that he had misunderstood the situation on the ground.

When multiple news organizations, including The New York Times, questioned Mr. Conricus then about why he had misled the news media, he called it an honest mistake. But he acknowledged that the military had sought to deceive fighters in Gaza through a series of tactics that made it seem as if an invasion were indeed occurring. He retired from active service soon afterward, though he has stayed involved in the military’s information operation.

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