After the Hamas massacre of October 7, the Israeli military took three weeks before it responded with a ground invasion of Gaza, a span longer than most outside observers seemed to expect. What was happening? In that time, Israel’s air force was softening the ground for that incursion, and giving Palestinian civilians time to vacate the battlefield. Assaf Orion, a retired IDF brigadier general and defense strategist, joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver this week to explain how Israel staged its air campaign, why it would help the ground phase, whether the air force’s objectives were met, how bombs and missiles can penetrate subterranean targets, and how hostage fatalities could be avoided. Their conversation amounts to a preliminary retrospective on the earliest phase in Israel’s response.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.