Toppling Hamas... Israel’s elusive goal

Yasmine Osama Farag , Sunday 15 Oct 2023

The "Al-Aqsa Flood" battle launched by the Palestinian movement Hamas has ignited the appetite of the Israeli occupation authorities to achieve a long-standing goal: toppling Hamas in Gaza.

File Photo - Hamas fighters in Gaza. AFP

Israel has pledged to eliminate Hamas and target all its military and government leaders, leaving many speculations and questions.

How will Israel be able to accomplish this? Will it succeed? What new reality is Israel seeking to impose in Gaza as it prepares for a ground invasion? Lastly, what is the fate of Hamas after the largest attack that inflicted the highest number of casualties in Israel since 1948? 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirms that the response to Hamas' attack "will change the Middle East." In contrast, the Israeli Chief of Staff declares that Israel will determine who rules Gaza.

These threats are inseparable from the Israeli army's calls for the residents of Gaza to evacuate the territory, including a clear call to head to Egypt.

Eliminating Hamas through a comprehensive war on the Strip is not easy; it will cost Israel immense military and economic losses that it has long sought to avoid.

Some analysts suggest that Israel is now willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of its soldiers to achieve its current goal of completely eradicating Hamas.

Occupying Gaza

Dr Ayman Al-Raqab, a professor of political science at Al-Quds University, suggests that the most likely scenario involves Israel launching a broad ground war on Gaza, thus dividing the territory into three to five zones, as discussed during Israeli cabinet sessions.

In 2008, the Israeli army attempted to occupy Gaza and controlled nearly 70 percent of the Strip. Since then, the situation has completely changed.

Palestinian resistance groups have become better equipped. Therefore, a confrontation between these groups and Israel will be more intense and prolonged.

“The continuous Israeli bombardment aims to create firewalls and empty entire areas, enabling the occupation army to enter and prepare for street battles with the resistance, which will be ready for long ground battles and underground warfare using tunnels”, Al-Raqab said.


Humanitarian Corridors

Israel and the United States are now proposing establishing humanitarian corridors for evacuating Gaza's population.

"The Palestinians fully reject creating humanitarian corridors that lead to Sinai. We are not seeking an alternative homeland, and if we want to expand, it will be towards historical Palestine,” said Al-Raqab. 

Can Hamas actually be eliminated?

Even if Israel were to occupy Gaza, eliminating Hamas, which includes 20 to 30 thousand fighters, would remain an elusive goal.

“Hamas is an idea, and the idea does not end with the killing of those who fight for it,” Al-Raqab said, adding that Hamas enjoys massive public support.

For his part, Dr. Hassan Asfour, former minister of the Palestinian Authority, writer and political analyst, said that Israel may eliminate Hamas militarily but not politically.

Asfour believes that the real motive of Israel’s current attack on Gaza is to completely Judaize all Palestinian lands by destroying the Gaza Strip on the one hand and expanding settlement in the West Bank on the other.

He added that Israel aims to form a puppet Palestinian government in which Hamas may participate after Israel eliminates its military wing.  

Furthermore, Asfour said the danger is not limited to Gaza alone as the situation in the West Bank also threatens to explode.

The Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in danger of falling due to the decline in its popularity and the economic difficulties faced by the people of the West Bank, he stressed.

Asfour warned against the expansion of Israeli settlement in the West Bank under the most extremist Israeli government to date. The number of settlers, he said, increased from about 105,000 settlers before the Oslo Accords in 1993 to more than 700,000, occupying 60 percent of the West Bank.  

In conclusion, Asfour said the upcoming days will be very tough for the Palestinian people, who have already lost nearly 2000 martyrs and are facing a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, massive destruction, and the possibility of forced deportation.

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