The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are making strides against Hamas in Gaza, but former IDF officers emphasize that dismantling it as a military force will be a time-consuming endeavor. Professor Gabi Siboni, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, stated that the campaign against Hamas is anticipated to be “very long.”
Hamas has established a heavily fortified terror base in Gaza, both above and below ground, posing challenges to the IDF. With civilian homes doubling as weapon storage and connected to underground terror infrastructure, the civilian population is intricately involved in Hamas’s war efforts, making the conflict complex.
While the IDF aims to dismantle Hamas’s military and governance capabilities, Siboni stressed the realistic and correct nature of this goal, asserting that it is crucial for preserving Israel’s existence. The ongoing operation involves a shift in the IDF’s order of battle in Gaza, considering other arenas like Lebanon and Judea and Samaria.
Despite the IDF’s achievements in weakening Hamas, Siboni acknowledged that Gaza remains a combat zone, requiring meticulous efforts to dismantle the organization’s capabilities. The densely populated and heavily fortified nature of the area contributes to the prolonged timeline.
Efforts to allow Gazan civilians to return to northern Gaza face challenges as the region remains a combat zone with underground infrastructure and weapon-filled homes. Siboni emphasized the need for continued IDF operations in Gaza for security reasons, comparing the situation to the long-term security measures in Judea and Samaria.
The IDF is adapting its strategy in southern Gaza, aiming to reach the Hamas leadership and locate hostages. Siboni highlighted the complexity of the operation, emphasizing the achievements in the densely populated and fortified Gaza Strip with minimal civilian casualties compared to other conflicts. As Israel faces international pressure, including calls for an end to the fighting, experts caution against prematurely concluding the operation, emphasizing the importance of regional deterrence and national security.