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Politics

Day 17 of war: Preparing the military action to ensure ‘there will be no more Hamas’

Israel dare not allow emboldened enemies on its borders, cannot leave Hamas still standing and capable, must show that it has restored our ability to live safely in our land

(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Day 17 of the war against Hamas finds Israel in a strange, disquieting, and potentially vital holding pattern.

Utterly surprised and near-overwhelmed in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, the Israel Defense Forces had blocked Egypt’s offensive and forced invading Syrian troops back to the pre-war lines after three days, and was shelling Damascus by the end of the first week of fighting.

Today, after the biggest call-up in history, the IDF is indicating that it is increasingly ready to move into Gaza once the political green light is given, but also that it is utilizing the interim period. It will need to tackle Hamas in a vast underground of hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, some vast and as much as 70 meters deep, with control rooms, sophisticated communications systems, even recreation areas. “Not much” of that infrastructure has been destroyed in more than two weeks of IAF bombings, but the IDF has the tools to deal with them, ex-military officials assess.

“We are increasing the attacks in the Gaza Strip in order to reduce the threats to our forces in preparation for the next phase of the war,” the IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday night. “We will go to the next stage under the best conditions for the IDF and in accordance with the decision of the political echelon.”

It is widely assessed that the IDF has presented its operational plans for ground action to the highest levels of Benjamin Netanyahu’s emergency government.

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“We will enter the Gaza Strip,” IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi told Golani infantry commanders, also Sunday. “We will begin an operational and professional mission to destroy the Hamas operatives, the Hamas infrastructure, and we will also keep in our minds the images, the scenes and the fallen from Shabbat two weeks ago.” He added: “Gaza is complex, Gaza is dense, the enemy is preparing a lot of things there, but we are preparing things for them as well.”

Footage aired by the Al Jazeera network of the Hamas tunnel system under the Gaza Strip, June 5, 2021 (Screen grab)

After Hamas’s unbearable mass slaughter of 1,400 people in southern Israel, with the executions, the burnings, the rapes of civilians in their homes and communities, it is imperative that Hamas can never again threaten Israel. If it is not defanged, it will prepare to repeat and worsen its barbarism against Israelis. If Israel cannot or does not destroy it, all our enemies will be emboldened. And Israel’s political and military leadership will be telling the Israeli public that they cannot be guaranteed the basic right to live in safety in our land. Such a reality would be untenable for Israel.

Needless to say, the situation is complex.

(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Day 17 of the war against Hamas finds Israel in a strange, disquieting, and potentially vital holding pattern.

Utterly surprised and near-overwhelmed in the Yom Kippur War in October 1973, the Israel Defense Forces had blocked Egypt’s offensive and forced invading Syrian troops back to the pre-war lines after three days, and was shelling Damascus by the end of the first week of fighting.

Today, after the biggest call-up in history, the IDF is indicating that it is increasingly ready to move into Gaza once the political green light is given, but also that it is utilizing the interim period. It will need to tackle Hamas in a vast underground of hundreds of kilometers of tunnels, some vast and as much as 70 meters deep, with control rooms, sophisticated communications systems, even recreation areas. “Not much” of that infrastructure has been destroyed in more than two weeks of IAF bombings, but the IDF has the tools to deal with them, ex-military officials assess.

“We are increasing the attacks in the Gaza Strip in order to reduce the threats to our forces in preparation for the next phase of the war,” the IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday night. “We will go to the next stage under the best conditions for the IDF and in accordance with the decision of the political echelon.”

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