5 Things podcast: Israel expands its Gaza incursion, Maine shooting suspect found dead

5 Things podcast: Israel expands its Gaza incursion, Maine shooting suspect found dead


Taylor Wilson
 USA TODAY.oembed-frame{width:100%;height:100%;margin:0;border:0}

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Israel says it is expanding its Gaza ground incursion

Israel says it is expanding its Gaza ground incursion. USA TODAY Pentagon Correspondent Tom Vanden Brook explains what the latest offensive might look like. Plus, USA TODAY Domestic Security Correspondent Josh Meyer puts US airstrikes against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in context, the Maine shooting suspect has been found dead, here are the victims, researchers discover new signs of rivers on Mars, and Texas Rangers take Game 1 of the World Series from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things You Need To Know, Saturday the 28th of October 2023.

Today Israel intensifies its ground incursion in Gaza. Plus the US has launched airstrikes against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. And the Maine shooting suspect is dead.

Israel is expanding its ground operation in Gaza. The Israeli military released videos earlier today showing armored vehicles moving in Gaza, marking the first visual confirmation of ground troops there, though troops had reportedly previously conducted brief ground incursions before returning to Israel. The move appears to be the latest escalation to Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas, Gaza’s ruling militant group. Hamas attacked Southern Israel earlier this month, killing more than 1400 people according to Israeli officials, and taking at least 229 hostages into Gaza. Israel in the week since has bombarded Gaza. The Palestinian death toll there has moved past 7,300 according to the territory’s health ministry, A blockade in Gaza has put food and other essential items in short supply, and the UN says its aid operation there is struggling with near depleted fuel. So what will this next phase of the war look like? I spoke with USA TODAY Pentagon correspondent Tom Vanden Brook, about the challenges of urban warfare in a place like Gaza and what the latest US position on the war might look like going forward. Tom, thanks for making the time.

Tom Vanden Brook:

Thanks for having me Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

So Tom, what are we hearing at this point about what might this military offensive look like?

Tom Vanden Brook:

You’ve got a very densely populated area in Gaza, 2.23 million people in a very densely packed area, and Hamas militants have been preparing for some time for the Israelis to invade. Any invasion would be very, very bloody for everybody.

Taylor Wilson:

Yeah. You mentioned this densely packed area that is Gaza. Tom, why is urban warfare such a nightmare for both civilians and troops and why might it be particularly brutal in this territory?

Tom Vanden Brook:

There are a couple of different factors here, Taylor. So again, you’ve got a lot of people in a small area. And the typical advantages for modern militaries are long range fires from tanks where you can fire from a long distance. You don’t have that in a city where the streets are winding. And as Senator Jack Reed of the Armed Services Committee told me, he was just back from Israel, that a sniper behind a wall has just as much advantage as some of the more modern sophisticated weapon systems. Adding to that, you’ve got civilians who live there, they live in this area. You’ve got militants who may dress the same as civilians. So it’s very difficult to choose who is friend or foe and who’s a legitimate target, who isn’t. Civilians get caught in the crossfire very quickly and very easily and lots of bad things happen.

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Taylor Wilson:

And Tom, the United States is a close ally of Israel. So really much of the world is watching to see the level to which the US involves itself here. What are we hearing and seeing about possible US military action in this conflict?

Tom Vanden Brook:

Well, there’s been a big buildup of US military muscle in the region, and part of that is to deter adversaries backed by Iran, and Iran itself. Iran has supported Hamas, they’ve also supported Hezbollah to the north of Israel and Lebanon. And so the Pentagon has sent two aircraft carrier strike groups. That means dozens of warplanes on each ship and 5,000 to 7,000 sailors on each of the groups. There are extra warplanes being sent to ground bases in the Middle East and thousands of soldiers on short orders to get ready to deploy. So the concern is that this could spill over into a regional war and we’ve got a lot of interest in the Middle East, obviously, beyond Israel and that US troops could get involved. In fact, there was an airstrike on Thursday night, late Thursday night, early Friday, in Syria. The US went after some Iranian backed militias that had been rocketing bases in Iraq and Syria.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. Tom Vanden Brook covers the Pentagon for USA TODAY. Thank you, Tom for joining us on another busy week.

Tom Vanden Brook:

Sure Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

Meanwhile, also in the Middle East this week, the US launched airstrikes against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. I spoke with USA TODAY Domestic Security Correspondent Josh Meyer about the elite military unit and broader US policy in the region. Josh, thanks for hopping on.

Josh Meyer:

Thanks Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:

So Josh, let’s just start here. What is Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?

Josh Meyer:

So the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC for short, is considered by the US government to be one of the most dangerous threats to US interests around the world, and it has been for many decades. It’s kind of a combination of military, paramilitary and terrorist proxies that it trains and funds around the world. But also at the heart of it, is the revolutionary guards themselves and their elite paramilitary force, which is known as the Quds Force.

Taylor Wilson:

And the US has conducted airstrikes on two facilities linked to Iranian backed militias. Why do US officials say they carried out these strikes?

Josh Meyer:

So this appears to be a significant escalation for the US. The US conducted the airstrikes on two facilities that it said were linked to Iranian backed militias in eastern Syria following a series of drone and rocket attacks against US forces in the region, that the Biden administration believes were connected to Iran and the IRGC. The way that Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense put it, was that the United States will not tolerate such attacks and will defend itself, its personnel and its interests, from these Iranian backed attacks

Taylor Wilson:

The US is trying to weigh whether to get involved, how to get involved with the Israel Hamas War. What impact might the IRGC and as you mentioned, this recent potential escalation and Iran on the whole, have on how the US decides its next course of action in this war?

Josh Meyer:

Well, I think the US is trying as hard as it can to stay away from this and not get involved in any way. And the concern is that if Iran gets involved somehow, that that’s going to draw the US in, either to protect Israel or to protect its own interests in the region. The US has a lot of forces, especially in Iraq, to fight ISIS, which it’s trying to make sure it doesn’t come back to anything close to full strength. And so Iran has been targeting the US forces with proxy groups that it trains in the region. But I think at this point the US is going to do whatever it can to stay out of this fight.

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Taylor Wilson:

Josh Meyer, thanks as always.

Josh Meyer:

My pleasure. Thanks.

Taylor Wilson:

A man suspected of shooting and killing 18 people and injuring 13 others in Maine this week has been found dead. Robert Card wanted for the shootings at a bar and a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to authorities. They’d been searching for him since the Wednesday shootings and had issued murder warrants against him. Maine Governor Janet Mills said last night that now is a time to heal.

Governor Janet Mills:

Tonight the city of Lewiston and the state of Maine begin to move forward on what will be a long and difficult road to healing, but we will heal, together.

Taylor Wilson:

The suspected Gunman’s death comes after multiple school districts canceled classes this week while authorities searched for him. Yesterday, officials announced the names of the 18 people killed in the tragedy. They range in age from 14 to 76. The massacre has also shaken the deaf community. A group of deaf people were gathered at the bar where the shooting took place, for a cornhole tournament and some of them were killed in the gunfire. You can read more about the victims with a link in today’s show notes.

Did Mars have life? That question has inspired both scientists and science fiction writers for generations and new research from a team of scientists at Penn State who analyzed Curiosity Rover data, found that the planet could have once had lots of flowing water, the bedrock of life. In a study published in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers determined that many of the craters covering Mars could have once been habitable rivers.

The study’s lead author Benjamin Cardenas said “It offers a vision of Mars where most of the planet once had the right conditions for life.” It’s the latest mounting evidence that life might’ve once existed there. Findings from NASA’s Perseverance Rover led researchers to conclude in a July study that organic molecules, a potential indicator of life, were present in rocks where a lake long ago existed on Mars. Researchers though, said that evidence of such molecules is not proof of life past or present on the Red Planet.

The first game of the World Series is in the books, and it was one to remember. The Texas Rangers came from behind to win, trailing 5 – 3 in the bottom of the ninth inning before Corey Seager hit a two run homer to send the game to extra innings. The Rangers then won in the bottom of the 11th off an Adolis Garcia walk-off Homer. Before the game, former president, George W. Bush threw out the first pitch 22 years after doing the same at the World Series, following the 911 Terror Attacks. The series continues tonight with Game two in Arlington, Texas. You can tune in at 8 Eastern, 5 Pacific on Fox and follow along with USA TODAY Sports.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us seven mornings a week on whatever your favorite podcast app is, and if you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m in for the Sunday edition tomorrow, talking about American’s obsession with true crime. You can listen right here on this feed. This is 5 Things from USA TODAY.

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