In a telephone conversation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned U.S. President Joe Biden about the launch of an IDF ground operation in the Gaza Strip. Axios reported it on October 9, citing Israeli and American sources. According to their information, Biden did not dissuade the Israeli prime minister. Furthermore, in his address to the nation, Netanyahu promised to attack Hamas with unprecedented might.
Today, Haaretz quoted Israel Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari, who said that hundreds of tonnes of bombs had been dropped on the Gaza Strip, which had been under complete blockade since October 9, and explained that “the emphasis is on destruction, not precision.” For his part, IDF international spokesperson Richard Hecht told reporters that civilian ministries or the parliament building in Gaza could also be targeted: “If a militant fires rockets from a building, it becomes a military target.” It soon came to light that an airstrike on the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip killed two members of the Hamas political office: «minister of economy” Jawad Abu Shammala and head of internal relations Zakaria Abu Maamar.
There can be no doubt about Israel’s intention to respond as harshly as possible to the Hamas attack, which, as of October 10, had killed more than a thousand people, mostly civilians, including young children. According to a former Israeli army general staff officer who spoke to The Insider on condition of anonymity, Israeli authorities will try to compensate for the strategic blow dealt by the large-scale terrorist attack:
“From everything I've heard from our politicians and army commanders, they assess the damage to Israel as very serious, not only in terms of the number of dead but also in a strategic sense. Now that damage needs to be compensated for. It is impossible to negotiate at the moment; there’s no one to negotiate with and nothing to negotiate about. I can't imagine that this situation can be resolved by negotiation. But at the very least, we can try to exchange the women and children who have been taken hostage.
In the past, some figures in Netanyahu's government said it was easier to negotiate with Hamas than with the Palestinian National Authority and tried to divide the two groups. It is now publicly stated that we need to hit Hamas in a way that they will never recover from, but I find it hard to envision the group's total annihilation. Things look like they will have to completely take over the Gaza Strip to destroy Hamas. Now the IDF is trying to inflict as much damage as possible with airstrikes.
The Gaza Strip is home to two million inhabitants. They have nowhere to run. They can't flee to Egypt, and they can't flee to Israel either. Therefore, Israel should strike Hamas targets, as many military facilities and decision-making centers as possible. While the bombing continues, the army is likely preparing a ground operation. You can't drag out the preparation: the longer you wait, the more time you give Hamas to prepare. But it's also dangerous to rush. In 2006, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon unprepared, and there were many casualties. There has to be a balance.
I’m under the impression that Israeli society demands a radically different solution. Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip more than once. Air strikes alone will not solve the problem.”
As Eyal Pinko, a former Israeli security officer, told The Insider, Hamas can’t be defeated without a ground operation:
“We cannot achieve true victory without a land operation. For instance, there's a hospital in Gaza with five underground levels, and that's where Hamas headquarters are located. All of the commanders are there; ammunition, weapons, and missiles are stored there. For humanitarian reasons, no one wants to destroy the hospital. But we can't destroy Hamas without going into that building.
On the other hand, we realize that a ground operation means war with Hezbollah. They are already threatening that in the event of a ground invasion, they will start a war on two fronts, from Syria and Lebanon. Also, if a ground operation begins, Hamas will kill the hostages. The government of Israel has some very difficult choices to make.”
“Netanyahu has made Hamas his partner”
Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2019 that the best way to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state is to support and fund Hamas. He also said it was practical to pursue the strategy of separating the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. “Netanyahu's strategy is to prevent the two-state [Israeli and Palestinian] option, so he made Hamas his closest partner,” explained retired IDF General Gershon Hacohen, quoted in a May 2021 article by the Berl Katznelson Foundation's Center for Political Science Research.
As the article notes, Netanyahu's policy of weakening the Palestinian Authority has allowed Hamas to grow stronger with Qatari support and has led to a series of armed clashes. The authors of the publication emphasize that Israel has every right to respond to attacks on its citizens and to use force to protect the southern settlements, but without a long-term political strategy, the use of force will not resolve the conflict.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants are holding at least 130 hostages kidnapped from Israel in the Gaza Strip. Hamas political office chief Ismail Haniyeh said on October 10 that there would be no negotiations on the release of hostages, whom the terrorist group hopes to exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, until Israel ended its military operation in Gaza.
According to Israeli military expert David Sharp, despite the threat to the hostages’ lives, Israel cannot stop the military operation now:
“The war must continue so that the fighting unfolds optimally. This is a crucial principle. The goal of this war would appear to be the destruction of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, its military formations, and civilian infrastructure.
A lot of people have already lost their lives, and there will be more losses, unfortunately. There is no official information about the hostage negotiations, and if there are any, they are being held exclusively through mediators. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas have traditionally been conducted through Egypt and Qatar.
There are rumors of attempts to exchange first of all women, children, the elderly, or the wounded. There's a possibility of their exchange for female Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons who have committed serious crimes and are responsible for loss of life. Hamas’ demands tend to be large. In the past, Israel paid a very high price to terrorists. Once, it released over a thousand people in exchange for one member of the military. Since then, the decision has been made not to pay that price.”