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The Israeli military’s high command has raised doubts about the feasibility of Israeli objectives in Gaza, in view of “Israel’s limited progress in dismantling Hamas”, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

“Israel has established control over a smaller part of Gaza at this point in the war than it originally envisaged in battle plans from the start of the invasion, which were reviewed by The New York Times,” the report stated.

Prisoners vs War Dilemma

The slow pace of the operations has reportedly “led some (Israeli) commanders to privately express their frustrations over the civilian government’s strategy for Gaza”.

According to the report, many in the Israeli army are now mulling the possibility of prioritizing the release of Israeli captives held in Gaza by the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas to the lofty goal of dismantling the Palestinian Resistance.

“The dual objectives of freeing the hostages and destroying Hamas are now mutually incompatible,” according to interviews with four “senior military leaders”, who spoke to NYT on the condition of anonymity.

These views were publicly expressed by Gadi Eisenkot, former Israeli army chief of staff and member of the war cabinet, who said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that the release of the captives cannot be achieved through military operations.

“For me, there’s no dilemma. The mission is to rescue civilians, ahead of killing an enemy,” Eisenkot said.

“According to three of the commanders interviewed by The Times, the diplomatic route would be the swiftest way of returning the Israelis,” NYT reported. It added that Hamas infrastructure “was more sophisticated than Israeli intelligence officers previously assessed.”

Impossible Tunnels

The report further details the failure of the Israeli operations on the ground in Gaza.

One of the lofty goals set by the Israeli army was the complete destruction of the tunnel network. However, it seems that it did not succeed in doing so.

“Locating and excavating each tunnel is time-consuming and dangerous. Many are rigged with booby traps, according to the Israeli military.”

No Military Control

Despite triumphant statements regarding Israel’s military control of large swathes of the besieged territory, facts on the ground seem to point to a different reality.

“On the eve of Israel’s invasion,” the report says, “the military assessed that it would establish ‘operational control’ over Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah (…) by late December”.

“But by mid-January, Israel had yet to begin its advance into Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, and still had not forced Hamas from every part of Khan Younis, another major city in the south,” it added.

Moreover, Israel withdrew from the northern Gaza “at the peak of the campaign in December,” which created “a power vacuum in the north, (thus) allowing Hamas fighters and civilian officials to try to reassert their authority there”.

Indeed, the Resistance has consistently thrown rockets toward the Israeli settlements surrounding Gaza, from that same area, proving that its military capabilities are largely intact and still fully functional.

NYT had a similar assessment, reporting on Tuesday’s firing by Hamas fighters of a barrage of about 25 rockets into Israel, “angering Israelis who had hoped that after months of war that Hamas’s rocket launching abilities had been destroyed”.

Hamas Leaders Alive

Another Israeli failure is that Israel did not succeed in eliminating Hamas’ leadership in Gaza.

“Hamas’s top leaders in Gaza – including (Yahya) Sinwar, Mohammad Deif and Marwan Issa – remain at large,” the report admitted.

Despite all of this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to claim that Israel’s goals, whatever they are, can only be achieved through war.

“Halting the war before the goals are achieved will broadcast a message of weakness,” he said in his speech on Thursday.

In a statement published on Saturday afternoon, the Israeli army said that the comments cited in the NYT report were “not known” to the military and “do not reflect the IDF’s position.”

According to the New York Times, Israel’s failure is worse than expected. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

Source: The Palestine Chronicle

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