Does Netanyahu have the power to eliminate Hamas?

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Does Netanyahu have the power to eliminate Hamas?

Does Netanyahu have the power to eliminate Hamas?

Hours after extremist Hamas attacks on Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu promised that the response to this group would be nothing but its destruction. He vowed to take action to prevent Gaza from returning to the situation before the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel.

20 days later, on October 27th, the Israeli army launched a widespread ground offensive against Gaza with the aim of completely destroying Hamas. As a result of these attacks, irreparable blows were inflicted on the strategic centers of this extremist group, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.

After about a month, on Friday, November 24th, Israel and Hamas reached an agreement to halt the clashes for four days and exchange prisoners and hostages with each other. This agreement was extended for another three days, but ultimately, Israeli forces resumed their attacks after a week and the conflict continues.

According to Palestinian officials, more than 18,000 people have been killed as a result of Israeli military attacks, a situation that has sparked international dissatisfaction among human rights activists, numerous countries, and even allies of this country.

Hamas in Limbo

Israel can strike a blow to Hamas to the extent that Ryan Bell, a senior Middle East analyst at the Rain America Institute, says that Israel can achieve its main goals of suppressing Hamas and ending missile threats from the Gaza Strip. In addition, with the Israeli army’s actions, a repeat of the ground attack by Hamas forces, such as what we witnessed on October 7, would be impossible.

However, Hamas, as an underground ideological movement, will remain. They have bases in Lebanon and Syria, a political office in Qatar, and also receive support from Iran. Furthermore, Palestinian opinion polls show increased support for this group in the West Bank. As a result, they will have multiple geographies in which they can carry out operations with the coordination of their military branch.

Hamas officials claim that the destruction of this group will not happen. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the political office of this group, said on December 13 that the future of Gaza without Hamas is nothing but an illusion. On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated and emphasized his initial promise on December 10 that this war marks the beginning of the end of Hamas.

In discussions about the feasibility of destroying Hamas, some observers emphasize the ideology and beliefs that are seen among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian territories. According to the results of a recent survey conducted by a Palestinian institution and published by a French news agency on December 13, with Israel’s continued attacks on the Gaza Strip, not only have support for the extremist Hamas group in this region not decreased, but it has even increased. However, more than 90% of the participants in this survey expressed their desire for Mahmoud Abbas to step down as the leader of the Palestinian self-governing institutions.

Kaveh Hassan, an Iraqi researcher at the Stimson Institute in Brussels, says to the media about this: History tells us that indiscriminate bombing campaigns against cities have never been able to drive people towards rebelling against their own government. During World War II, the Allied forces, despite bombing cities like Hamburg and Dresden, and during the Korean and Vietnam wars, despite the US bombing cities in these countries and destroying infrastructure and cutting off electricity and the like, were never able to achieve their desired goals.

Israel and time constraints

On November 13, the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elie Cohen, had stated that the Israeli army has only two to three weeks to complete the operation in the Gaza Strip, as according to him, international pressure against Jerusalem will increase afterwards.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu continues to repeat, as he did on the first day, that this war will be long but ultimately Hamas will be defeated. Netanyahu likely has the support of a significant portion of his citizens in this idea. The Israeli Democracy Institute conducted a poll among the country’s citizens after a one-week ceasefire in November, according to which three-fourths of Israelis said the army’s invasion should continue regardless of international pressure.

Ryan Bell says about this, it seems that the United States hopes that this war will end before January 2024, when the presidential election campaigns for the next year begin. Considering the actions taken by the Israeli army, this timeline seems quite reasonable. Therefore, it can be expected that Israeli ground operations in the Gaza Strip will come to an end in the coming weeks.

However, the gap between Jerusalem and Washington will continue to widen and may even reach its peak, as the two sides do not agree on the future of the Gaza Strip. Israelis, including opposition members, do not believe that self-governing bodies are a credible entity to manage the blockade, while the United States welcomes the return of this group to Gaza. Therefore, we will witness significant divisions between Washington and Jerusalem in 2024.

The idea of a two-state solution is still rejected by Israel.

From the early days of Israel’s ground attacks on the Gaza Strip and its emphasis on the stated goal of destroying Hamas, many analysts had differing opinions on the dimensions and scope of this destruction. While Israeli officials sometimes spoke of the complete destruction of this group, some observers spoke of the opposite effect of these operations.

Kaveh Hassan is one of those who says that the only way to escape from this tragedy is to create a political rift between Hamas and the civilian population. This is despite the fact that the current bombing campaign by Israel will have the opposite effect, as it will produce more terrorist recruits rather than killing Hamas forces. Not only will it radicalize Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, but it will also radicalize other groups in the Middle East and North Africa.

Furthermore, some military figures believe that finding the cause of the situation is more important than anything else, and eliminating it can prevent this cycle from repeating. Retired General Ben Hodges, former commander of the US Army in Europe, has said to CNN in this regard, ‘To eliminate or destroy Hamas, Israel must eliminate the reason for its existence, which means Israel must progress towards a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. Yes, Hamas cannot have a leadership role in governing Gaza, but Israel’s refusal to accept the two-state solution will continue to fuel Hamas’ motivation for the destruction of Israel.’

Israeli officials have recently expressed their strong opposition to the idea of a two-state solution. Israeli President Isaac Herzog explicitly rejected the two-state solution on December 15, stating that our nation is still suffering from the pain and trauma of the Hamas attack in October 7, and it is not the time to talk about creating an independent Palestinian state.

Prior to that, on December 14, Israeli Ambassador to Britain, Zipi Hotovely, stated that the possibility of forming a Palestinian state does not exist and even Israel’s allies are opposed to it. Although Hotovely’s remarks were met with negative global reactions, it is worth noting that none of the senior officials in the current Israeli cabinet have expressed support for the formation of a Palestinian state.

Ryan Bell discusses the potential impacts that continued Israeli military attacks can have on the future of Gaza. He states that Israelis can control and suppress certain aspects of large-scale hostile actions, but at the same time, they will be engaged in an endless game of hunting individual attackers. This is reminiscent of the unrest prior to 2005, until Israel is convinced to withdraw from Gaza once again.

In such circumstances, with 70 days passed since the start of the war in Gaza, it is clear that the Israeli army has been able to inflict irreparable blows in terms of weaponry and infrastructure on the extremist group Hamas. However, the increasing number of civilian casualties, which is causing global outrage on a daily basis, portrays Israel as more responsible and culpable in this equation than in the early days after October 7th. Moreover, contrary to Israel’s hopes of creating deterrence, it is likely to lead to a wave of anger and hatred among the surviving Palestinians.

Recent agreements may temporarily marginalize Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but disregarding the demands of Palestinians and international requests will likely once again ignite Palestinian territories, potentially leading to a new wave of violent events in the region.

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