Israel-Hamas war: Why 'big moment' of IDF invasion may not happen

In the hours and days after the 7 October attacks on Israel, the sense coming from the Israeli military and government was of an imminent ground invasion to avenge the massacre of their people.

Whether the decision-makers have taken a collective pause for breath, or whether international pressure has forced them to slow down, the much-promised ground invasion hasn't yet happened.

Instead, over recent successive nights we've seen limited incursions, based on specific targets, with Israeli soldiers exiting Gaza before the sun rises.

It's an effective strategy and could run for a number of days longer.

Israel-Gaza latest: Israel to expand ground operations in Gaza tonight; civilians warned to move south

By changing the point of entry and coming in at different angles, including by sea, Israel is keeping Hamas guessing.

Each time they go into the Gaza Strip, they destroy infrastructure, map out routes, assess the environment and gather vital intelligence.

Read more:
Israel accuses Hamas of launching attacks from inside Gaza hospitals
US launches retaliatory strikes on Iran-linked munition storage sites in Syria

Bit by bit, the IDF is pushing into Gaza - don't be surprised if there is no "big moment" of invasion, but rather a gradual and deliberate rise in the tempo of operations.

The slower build-up to a larger ground invasion will not just have taken the wider watching world by surprise, but Hamas too.

That will start to impact morale, as many fighters will be hiding below ground, living off frayed nerves and little else as the Israeli air force flattens the ground above.

At some point, Israeli forces will need to go street by street, house by house.

Then, the danger of ambush, booby traps and snipers will increase significantly, but these earlier incursions are designed to limit that risk, insofar as possible.