Mon 11 Dec 2023 7:35 am - Jerusalem Time
Israeli discrepancies regarding end-of-war scenarios
Regardless of the official Israeli statements from military and political leaders in which they claim that the Hamas movement is showing signs of failure in the face of the fierce Israeli attack, and that the movement’s senior leadership is losing its control over the field commands, their estimates indicate that they need many months, and there are those who say more than One year until the goals of the war are achieved, which are “to annihilate Hamas, return the prisoners, and implement measures that make the Gaza Strip a safe zone from which there is no room for launching missiles that threaten the residents of the south.”
However, the Israeli public, along with the media and experts, are not convinced that the army has sufficient resources to remain in the Gaza Strip for a full year or more. They say that it is entering the third month of the war and has not achieved tangible achievements that actually indicate that Hamas is close to collapse. It destroyed all the buildings in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and occupied almost the entire area, but Hamas members still surprise the Israeli army with specific operations that destroy vehicles and kill soldiers. They even fire shells and some rockets from this area in particular. The army itself talks about the “fierce battles” it is waging with the enemy.
Although most Hebrew media outlets still withhold from the public any statement or tape recording from Hamas, few Israelis believe the accounts of the army spokesman, Daniel Hagari, about what is happening in the Gaza Strip. And he knows it. Although opinion polls indicate that he enjoys the trust of 86 percent of the public, he does not enjoy the trust of 50 percent of journalists, and they express this in newspapers and say it in other media outlets.
The feeling is that Israel has gone back 50 years in terms of imposing military control. Although this media has been practicing severe self-censorship since the beginning of the war, and refraining from publishing Hamas’ statements and recorded tapes, there is a feeling that the censorship and army commanders want those who receive the news to be exactly like the shining lights.
Spokesman Hagari took steps to restore confidence, organizing tours for journalists individually in Gaza. Every journalist was allowed to talk to whomever he wanted. Hagari responded to their request to give a more accurate picture of the results of the battles. And not just saying that his forces are approaching Sinwar, and that Hamas is approaching collapse. They held negotiations with him in recent days about the number of dead and injured.
He insisted that the number of deaths in the Gaza battles alone was 100 (in addition to 320 on October 7), but they informed him that they had information from hospitals that the number of wounded was many times greater than what he published, and they ultimately agreed that the number reached 5,000 wounded. After he had agreed with what was published by the newspaper “Haaretz”, last Tuesday, that the number was 1000, and the number was shocking at the time.
It is known that the army began to liberate large groups of reserve soldiers that it had recruited at the beginning of the war (360 thousand soldiers, 130 thousand of whom were directed towards the northern border and the rest near Gaza), and the total number of those who entered and exited to and from Gaza reached about 100 thousand soldiers during the war. There are certainly 5,000 wounded. It is clear that the wounds are varied and severe. There are injuries to the kidneys, spleen, liver, and of course to the head. There are a large number of eye injuries. Hospitals establish secret departments, and the percentage of permanently disabled people is at least 15 percent, and these are the injured who have lost limbs from their bodies.
Accordingly, even if there were very painful strikes on Hamas and its fighters, and even if there was a defeat in some Hamas positions, the fierce fighting shows that the Israeli claims about the imminent collapse of Hamas are part of psychological warfare and a propaganda campaign, and not necessarily reflects reality.
Talking about the need for an additional year means that the Israeli army is faltering, as it is a large army with huge resources, it has the latest weapons and high-tech technologies, and it has all the support it needs and more from the American army, which is organizing an air campaign of 200 huge cargo planes loaded with ammunition and equipment. However, it is advancing very slowly in front of the forces of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and others.
And the tapes that the army displays, which sometimes show young men forced to take off their shirts and sit on the ground naked for the purpose of humiliating them, or the tape in which they brag about the killing of 3 Hamas members in a foot operation in one of Jabalia’s alleys, or the demolition of a memorial in Palestine Square and the raising of the Israeli flag in it. These are disproportionate images that may be appropriate for an army that achieved a victory over a division of the Chinese or Russian army, and not an army that is considered one of the strongest armies in the world and is fighting an armed organization such as “Hamas” with 30,000 armed men.
According to the military correspondent for the right-wing newspaper “Israel Hayom”, Alon Ben David, who returned from a tour in the heart of Gaza hosted by the army, “On the military side, the Israeli army has recorded quite a few achievements for itself, but the pictures raise a vigilant debate among experts, as to whether these are signs of Signs of failure among Hamas.
The situation in the south of the Gaza Strip is different. Although the army operates with a large brigade force in Khan Yunis, it has not yet succeeded in defeating the four Hamas brigades operating in the city. The estimate is that this will require 3 weeks, and perhaps more, while the main emphasis was on trying to harm senior Hamas officials, led by Yahya Sinwar and his brother Muhammad.
The situation in the south of the Gaza Strip is different. Although the army operates with a large brigade force in Khan Yunis, it has not yet succeeded in defeating the four Hamas brigades operating in the city. The estimate is that this will require 3 weeks, and perhaps more, while the main emphasis was on trying to harm senior Hamas officials, led by Yahya Sinwar and his brother Muhammad, who, according to all indications, are working on this front.
If the occupation of Khan Yunis requires 3 weeks, then Rafah, which is many times larger in area and population density, and Deir al-Balah and the rest of the areas that the Israeli forces did not enter, require months, but the political leaders confirm that they do not have that much time, from a political standpoint.
Although, on Friday, the United States used its veto in the Security Council on a draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, there is clear concern in Israel that, with the exception of it, the rest of the 13 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution (and Britain abstained). According to various reports from Washington, the US administration intends to allow Israel to continue fighting until the end of the calendar year, that is, 3 weeks from today, before demanding it to redeploy.
All this, without a solution to the issue of the kidnapped Israelis held by Hamas, liberating any of whom does not seem to be an easy goal, and the special operation that took place at dawn on Friday to free soldier Saher Baruch failed and ended with his killing. This is noteworthy that the army confirms that similar efforts will continue in the future as well, despite the complicated circumstances of their success.
Based on all of this, the military operations in the Gaza Strip are a problem not only for Hamas, but for the Israeli army as well.
Source: Alsharq Alawsat