According to US intelligence officials, Israel is far from winning the war in Gaza as Hamas is far from being defeated.
The New York Times (NYT) reported this Sunday, citing US intelligence officials, that Israel’s main goal in the Gaza war, which is destroying Hamas, is going to be out of reach for quite a time and Tel Aviv is therefore far from winning the war. “While Israel’s war in Gaza has degraded Hamas’ combat capabilities, it is not close to eliminating the group and Hamas remains far from defeated, which is the principal war aim of the Israeli government,” the report noted.
To make matters even worse for Tel Aviv, the NYT report also revealed that the US intelligence officials now questioning the idea that destroying Hamas is a realistic option for Israel.
“It operates like a guerrilla force, hidden in a network of tunnels that are difficult to penetrate. Weakening the combat strength of the group may be a far more achievable goal, if the goal is one that can be materialized at all,” the report said.
Though Israel claims that it has killed more than 10,000 members of Hamas, US intelligence officials have refrained from officially acknowledging this number, nor have they given specific estimates in this regard, arguing, however, that such numbers by Israel are neither accurate nor meaningful.
As the NYT report further noted, the reason why the US officials estimate no near victory for Israel is that “the group is still able to confront Israeli troops in the northern, central, and southern parts of the enclave, as well as to fire rockets at Israeli settlements from several areas in the strip.” Other resistance groups in Palestine, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) Quds Brigade, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and the Mujahedeen Brigades, are also actively fighting against the Israeli military in Gaza.
Referring to Israel’s goal to destroy Hamas as an “illusion,” Hamas leader Hussam Badran issued a statement and said that “this kind of talk is directed at settlers, and only aims to boost their morale … The resistance is still operating in all areas of the Gaza Strip and is able to fire its rockets, and everyone is watching the videos,” referring to daily clips posted by the media channel of Hamas.
But nothing so far has been able to stop Israel’s war machine as in a new round of assaults, Israeli air strikes killed 28 Palestinians, including ten children, in Rafah early on Saturday. Rafah is where nearly two million Gazans are stranded and which Tel Aviv claims is the last Hamas stronghold.
Israel itself admitted the sour fact of failure
Beside the NYT report on the low probability of Israel defeating Hamas, Israel’s new budget for 2024, which Israel’s Ministry of Finance presented to the Knesset on Friday, shows that the Israeli military is preparing for the war on Gaza to continue at least until the end of this year.
In this regard, Israel’s Haaretz reported that “as the war in Gaza entered its fifth month this week, the Finance Ministry prepared the budget on the assumption that the intense fighting phase will end during the first quarter of 2024 and lower intensity fighting will continue until the end of the year.”
To prepare for the long war, the Israeli military has announced its plans to raise the age of exemption from reserve duty to 45 for regular reservists, 50 for officers, and 52 for those serving in special roles. They have also proposed extending the period of mandatory army service for male and female soldiers from two to three years.