Israel Bombs Gaza, But Hamas Can’t Be Destroyed Militarily, Experts Say | Foreign countries

Israel appears to be launching its final showdown in the war against the militant group Hamas in Gaza. Over the weekend, Israel’s war cabinet approved the start of a military ground operation in Rafah, the last refuge for more than a million Palestinians.

Israel justifies the move by the presence of significant Hamas fighting bases in the region. Israel says that Hamas must be completely destroyed for its military capabilities so that it no longer poses a threat to Israel.

Both the military expert in charge of the Middle East peace process and the CMI’s project manager believe that Israel cannot achieve its goals militarily in the long term.

– For example, it has already been seen in Afghanistan that the US effort to oust the Taliban ultimately strengthened it, Martti Ahtisaari, an expert at the peace organization CMI Cecilia Bellosniemi He says.

What is Hamas’ combat capability?

Reports of casualties suffered by Hamas vary.

Hamas is estimated to have had around 30,000-40,000 fighters before its terrorist attack in October.

According to the Israeli Armed Forces (IDF). destroyed It claims 19 of Hamas’ 24 combat battalions have killed about 14,000 Hamas fighters.

In March, Hamas claimed defeat 6000 fighters. US intelligence estimates fall somewhere between the numbers provided by Israel and Hamas.

The Jerusalem Post newspaper presents an assessment of Hamas militants About 30 percent Now in hiding in Gaza.

Hamas’s ability to fire rockets has been greatly reduced – they have not flown beyond southern Israel since January.

On December 17, 2023, the Israeli military released a photo of a tunnel found in Gaza. Credit: Stella Pictures/Action Press

British Broadcasting Corporation BBC has been detected, how much Israel has destroyed the Hamas tunnel network. The IDF says only that it has destroyed “a large part of the terrorist infrastructure.”

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IDF releases analyzed by the BBC indicate that 400 tunnels have been destroyed. However, the tunnels are known to run under Gaza for a total of about 700 kilometers, so destroying the entire tunnel network is considered impossible.

Hamas has not received any additions to its arsenal from its allies as a result of the Gaza blockade, Defense Forces Research Institute Lt. Col. Juha Makela He says.

On the other hand, according to some experts, most of Hamas’s weapons are manufactured in Gaza, CMI expert Cecilia Bellosniemi points out.

For example, the United States assessedEven if Israel succeeds in weakening Hamas, the terrorist organization has the ability to continue its armed activities for years to come.

What is Israel aiming for in Rafah?

Mahela, who is familiar with the Middle East’s armed forces and security policies, says a ground attack on Rafah could have two goals.

– We can try to pressure Hamas to raise its hand and negotiate, says McKella.

– or to launch an offensive against Israel from that entire area whose objective is actually to destroy the last weapon bases, preventing the use of rockets or anti-tank weapons.

Israel captures the Rafah border area in Gaza.

Israel took control of the Rafah border crossing on Tuesday. Photo: Magazine photo

Additionally, this action may have a political objective. There are parties in the Israeli government that want the war to continue until the end.

– No matter how extensive the Israeli operation is, the current government can later claim that all the stones have been turned to defeat Hamas and free the hostages, Bellozniemi says.

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What will the fight at Rafah be like?

Israel has ordered people east of Rafah to move to the war-torn city of Khan Younis. The first evacuation order applies to more than 100,000 people.

– These civilians have nowhere to go. Surely everyone understands that these are traumatized people with great humanitarian needs. Relocating them is not an easy process, Bellosniemi says.

McKella says that conclusions can be drawn about the civilian consequences of the destruction caused by Israel’s ground operations so far. Accurate precision attacks are not possible in a densely populated area.

In addition, Hamas still has hundreds of hostages alive, which it is suspected of holding underground in its tunnels.

– The mines cannot be directly detonated unless it is known that the hostages are still alive. You have to go there first to fight, says Makhela.

According to Mäkelä, all this affects the fact that the operation lasts. He estimates that a full ground offensive in the region would take several weeks.

The graphic below shows how many people are packed into Rafah:

Satellite image.
Satellite image.
Graphics: Eva Sarlin Images: Planet Labs BBC (left), Planet Labs BBC (right)

Can Israel destroy Hamas?

A crowd is walking through the ruins of the city.

People returning to Khan Yunis, destroyed by Israel on May 5, 2023. Photo: Ali Jadallah / Stella Images

According to Mäkelä, Israel will gain more time with military operations in Gaza and nothing else. It has succeeded in significantly destroying Hamas’ military capabilities, according to Lt. Col.

– Israel is doing everything in its power to ensure that Hamas can no longer carry out actions like the October terror attacks in the future. Mkhella estimates that it will take a long time for Hamas to recover from this war.

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Unless a permanent political solution to the conflict in the Middle East is found, the destruction of Hamas will end there.

Many of Hamas’ political leaders, such as the organization’s top leader, Ismail Hania, resident abroad. In addition, Hamas has cells elsewhere in the Middle East, McKella says.

– Ideology cannot be defeated with weapons, and Hamas as an organization cannot be destroyed with the Gaza war.

Besides, Israel cannot continue its war in Gaza forever. Citizen feedback is still positive Strong Prioritizing the release of hostages instead of waging war. Also, about 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed in ground attacks, which has fueled discontent among voters.

People on the street.

Thousands of people protested again in Tel Aviv on Saturday, May 4, demanding the release of the hostages. Photo: Magazine photo

Bellozniemi says Israel has long increased its security threat with its military operations. Apart from that, it has raised its own opposition in other parts of the world.

– In Palestine, people support armed resistance because they have nothing to lose, Bellozniemi says.

For them, the current war is the last chance to get an independent state where their rights will be realized, says Bellosniemi.

– If Hamas is to be destroyed militarily, it will require strict control over the population of Gaza, but I don’t see that as a realistic option. But Israel still lacks a realistic plan for managing Gaza after the war that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians.

According to Bellosniemi, the only way to guarantee the security of Israel and the Palestinians is a long-term political process, which includes security guarantees and, for example, the process of disarmament. According to him, Palestinians consider self-government, human rights and, for example, an independent state, in which freedom of movement and self-government are realized, is possible.

– The international community plays a major role in this.

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