Israelis will not be safe until the Israel Defense Forces disable Hamas, which can only be done by sending troops into Gaza.
Until October 6, the prevailing wisdom in Israel was that previous rounds of fighting had deterred Hamas, which had moderated, was only a minor annoyance, and was more concerned with governing its people than with destroying Israel. The barbarity of Hamas’ October 7 pogrom proved that none of this was true.
Since its founding, Hamas has been committed to Israel’s destruction. The group has been willing to move slowly toward its objectives, but Hamas’ patience should not be confused with moderation.
A ceasefire now would allow Hamas to rebuild, rearm, and prepare for its next opportunity to slaughter Israelis.
Israel’s aerial bombardment on Hamas infrastructure in Gaza will help weaken the terrorist group, but there are limits to this approach. Hamas places its weapons next to civilians, using them as human shields and forcing Israel to risk causing civilian casualties in the attempt to degrade Hamas assets.
For example, under Gaza’s largest hospital, Hamas reportedly has a command center, which Israel cannot target without damaging the healthcare facility. Moreover, Hamas operates a tunnel system, as long as 500 kilometers, underneath Gaza’s cities.
Israel cannot destroy it without leveling Gaza, and even then, Israel might not be able to sufficiently disable Hamas’ subterranean infrastructure.
So, Israel must launch a ground incursion, at a time of its choosing, even if it will be costly in terms of Israeli blood and treasure. Hamas has been preparing for this fight for a decade, setting booby-traps, building attack tunnels, and holding Gazans, and now Israelis, hostage as human shields.
However, Hamas is just a part of Iran’s ring of fire aimed at the Jewish state. If Israel overcommits its forces in Gaza, Israel would be vulnerable to other attacks by Iran and its proxies. Israel should therefore set realistic expectations for degrading Hamas’ offensive capabilities to a point where the group can no longer attack the Jewish state.
Kicking the can down the road is no longer an option. Israel cannot rely on technology, not even its vaunted Iron Dome missile defense system, to disable — not merely deter — the genocidal, ISIS-like Hamas terrorist group. Israeli soldiers are ready and motivated to protect their homeland. They are not fighting an obscure overseas foe. For Israel, the enemy is at the gates.
About the Author and Their Expertise
David May is a research manager and senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). Follow David on X, formerly known as Twitter, @DavidSamuelMay. Follow FDD on X @FDD. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
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