Israel tempers claims of imminent Hamas defeat as both sides seem set on long war

Israel tempers claims of imminent Hamas defeat as both sides seem set on long war

Peter Beaumont writes:

Israel’s insistence to the Biden administration that it needs more time to defeat Hamas has raised questions over the level of damage inflicted on the Islamist militant organisation, and whether it is changing tactics in its fight against the Israel Defense Forces.

In a week in which nine Israeli soldiers were killed, including two senior commanders and several other officers in a single complex ambush in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, analysts and commentators have begun to question previously bullish assessments about Hamas’s ability to fight.

While the IDF and Israeli media have made much of images of Hamas fighters surrendering and the forces claimed to have killed several thousand Hamas militants, the public language from some senior political and military figures has become more cautious.

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defence minister, has been among those who have alluded to the difficulties in destroying Hamas in comments made to Joe Biden’s national security adviser this week.

“Hamas is a terrorist organisation that built itself over a decade to fight Israel, and they built infrastructure under the ground and above the ground and it is not easy to destroy them,” Gallant said. “It will require a period of time – it will last more than several months, but we will win and we will destroy them.”

Gallant’s comments were echoed by Aharon Haliva, the IDF’s intelligence director, who said that he believed that the war against Hamas would take many more months. [Continue reading…]

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