Israeli military spokesman breaks with Netanyahu, says Hamas can’t be fully destroyed

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Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Courtesy IDF)
Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Courtesy IDF)

Jake Smith
Daily Caller News Foundation

The Israeli military appeared to break with the government on Wednesday, claiming that Hamas could not be fully defeated.

Israel has been at war with Hamas since Oct. 7, the date when the terrorist group invaded Israel and killed roughly 1,200 people. More than eight months into the war, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari said Wednesday that Hamas is an “idea” and cannot be fully destroyed, according to The Financial Times.

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“To say we are going to make Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” Hagari told Israel’s Channel 13 on Wednesday night, per the Times. “Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people. Whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.”

“What we can do is grow something different, something to replace it. The politicians will decide” who will replace Hamas, Hagari said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office appeared to reject Hagari’s comments, stating on Wednesday night that the country was still fully “committed” to destroying Hamas.

“The security cabinet headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu defined the destruction of Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities as one of the goals of the war,” Netnayahu’s office said on Wednesday. “The IDF is of course committed to this.”

The IDF said in response that Hagari was talking about “the elimination of Hamas as an idea and ideology,” and the notion that he was speaking otherwise would be “taking the quote out of context,” according to the Times.

The incident underscores the growing rift between Israeli forces and the country’s government. Netanyahu criticized the IDF last week for holding tactical pauses along a major road in Gaza so that humanitarian aid could be delivered to the region. The IDF’s leadership believes that Hamas can only be defeated entirely if Israel appoints a new governing body to oversee Gaza, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After almost a year of conflict, the IDF has seen Hamas resurge in regions of Gaza that the military previously seized, per the WSJ. Hamas retains between 9,000 and 12,000 operatives — down from roughly 30,000 — who are scattered throughout Gaza, primarily in Rafah, the southernmost region of the enclave, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Negotiations for a ceasefire have been largely unsuccessful. Israel and international mediators, including the U.S., have presented several proposals to Hamas, almost all of which have been rejected. President Joe Biden’s most recent proposal was also turned down by the terrorist group, and the Biden administration is reportedly fearful that no ceasefire deal will be reached anytime soon.

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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