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Report: Israel army leaders support stopping Gaza war, keeping Hamas in power

July 3, 2024 at 11:20 am

Israeli tanks are seen during an attack on Gaza’s Shujaiyye neighborhood from the Israeli border on June 29, 2024. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Israel’s top army generals support ceasing the military offensive against the besieged Gaza Strip, even if it leads to keeping the Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, in power, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing six current and former security officials.

The generals believe a ceasefire will be the best way to free the 120 Israelis still being held as prisoners of war in Gaza, explaining that their forces, which they said are “ill-equipped to continue fighting Israel’s longest war in decades”, need time to recover in preparation for the possibility of a war against Hezbollah, the sources said.

The security officials said a truce with Hamas may also facilitate reaching an agreement with Hezbollah which has repeatedly said that its engagement with Israel will cease when Tel Aviv stops its genocidal war in Gaza.

The paper reported that the army’s position on the ceasefire reflects a major shift in its thinking over the past months, after it has become clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to express or commit to a post-war plan.

Eyal Hulata, Israel’s former national security adviser, told the New York Times that Israel was still able to fight Hezbollah, but said “the army fully supports the hostage deal and the ceasefire.”

“The [army leaders] believe they are able to return and engage militarily with Hamas in the future, and they realise that stopping in Gaza makes calm more likely in Lebanon. They have less ammunition, fewer spare parts, and less energy than they had before, so they also believe that stopping the war in Gaza gives us more time to prepare in the event of a larger war with Hezbollah,” he added.

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Netanyahu has refused to stop the war on Gaza, saying Israel will reach its goals of releasing the detained hostages and ending Hamas’s presence in the Strip. However, Hamas has repeatedly offered to release Israelis in its detention as part of a comprehensive ceasefire deal.

The Israeli army fears an “eternal war” in which its energies and ammunition will gradually be eroded. In the face of this scenario, keeping Hamas in power for the time being in exchange for the return of the hostages appears to be the least bad option for Israel, Hulata explained. Four senior officials who spoke on condition of anonymity agreed with him.

In his response to the American paper’s report, Netanyahu said in a video statement issued by his office: “I don’t know who those unnamed parties are, but I’m here to make it unequivocally clear: it won’t happen.”

“We will end the war only after we have achieved all of its goals, including the elimination of Hamas and the release of all our hostages. The political echelon defined these goals for the IDF and the IDF has all the means to achieve them,” he continued.

“We will not succumb to defeatism, neither at the New York Times nor anywhere else. We are filled with the spirit of victory,” he concluded.

The Israel Defence Force also responded to the report, saying it was “determined to keep fighting until it achieves the goals of the war, the destruction of Hamas’s military and governance capabilities, bringing back our hostages, and safely returning residents in the north and south to their homes.”

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