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Israel's Strategy to Destroy Hamas Has Produced Mixed Results

AP Photo/Abed Khaled

Israel's number one war aim is the destruction of Hamas. That was made clear in a statement on October 11, just four days after Hamas carried out the terror attack that killed 1,200 Israeli civilians killed.

 "We will wipe this thing called Hamas, ISIS-Gaza, off the face of the earth. It will cease to exist," said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

In the last five weeks, 40,000 IDF soldiers have surrounded Gaza City. They are now in the process of clearing the complex series of tunnels where Hamas lives and operates.

Israel is making slow but steady progress in gaining control of Gaza. But as far as "destroying" Hamas, that's a long way off and may not even be realistically achievable. Once the IDF clears the tunnels in the north, they must pivot to the south, evacuate as many civilians as possible, and prepare the ground for another major incursion to destroy the tunnel system and the infrastructure used by Hamas.

It's a daunting task, and Israel's American allies aren't convinced it can be done.

The operation to clear Al Shifa Hospital is an example of the problems with trying to "destroy" Hamas. While there has been some evidence that Hamas did indeed use the hospital for military purposes, evidence is lacking so far that it was a major headquarters of the terrorists. True, a part of the hospital complex still has yet to be searched, and a tunnel that extends 50 feet underground needs to be explored and might yield more proof. 

New York Times:

Targeting Al-Shifa Hospital was “not the result of a strategy,” said Giora Eiland, a retired major general in the Israel Defense Forces and former head of the Israeli National Security Council. “It is more an important tactical maneuver” in Israel’s attempt to control the narrative about Hamas, he said.

While Hamas commanders might have been under Al-Shifa at the start of the war, Mr. Eiland said, most of them have evacuated to the south. As a result, he said, Israel will have to evacuate civilians and target Hamas brigades there in the coming weeks and months. Mr. Eiland predicted that this might be complicated by an international community losing patience with Israel.

Second-guessing Israeli military leaders about their Gaza strategy doesn't change the fact that Netanyahu has decided that no matter how hard it is, no matter how long it will take, Israel will not he threatened by Hamas again.

He claims that not only Israel's future, but the Palestinian people's future, depends on the destruction of Hamas.

"If you want peace, destroy Hamas. If you want security, destroy Hamas. If you want a future for Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East, destroy Hamas," Netanyahu told "Meet the Press" host Kristen Welker during an appearance on the NBC Sunday program. "We're absolutely intent on achieving it. And what I can tell you, [Kristen], is given the extraordinary performance of the Israeli army in the last few days, the last few weeks, we're going to achieve it. We'll do it with as few civilian casualties as we can and with maximum casualties on the Hamas terrorists, which we are achieving day by day, hour by hour, will complete the task."

Joe Biden is already feeling the heat. When the Europeans want to complain about Israel, they don't call Netanyahu -- they call Biden. And along with dwindling Democratic support in this country, Biden is trying to fight another war in Ukraine, which isn't going very well either.

Will Biden sacrifice his shot at a second term by hanging with the Israelis? Or will he break with Netanyahu and push for a cease-fire?

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