Netanyahu Aims to Weaken Hamas 'not Eliminate it' in Ongoing Gaza Conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares military operations against Hamas in Gaza's Rafah will continue despite cabinet disagreements. The US opposes the operation, instead pushing for a truce and hostage deal, which faces opposition from far-right Israeli parties.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Netanyahu Aims to Weaken Hamas in Ongoing Gaza Conflict

Netanyahu Aims to Weaken Hamas in Ongoing Gaza Conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that military operations against Hamas in Gaza's southernmost city of Rafah will continue, despite disagreements within his cabinet over the best course of action. According to a Jerusalem Post report, Netanyahu's goal is to weaken Hamas rather than completely eliminate it, so as to maintain power and the status quo.

Why this matters: The ongoing conflict in Gaza has significant implications for regional stability and global security, as it involves two major players in the Middle East and affects the lives of millions of people. The approach taken by Netanyahu's government will likely influence the trajectory of the conflict and have far-reaching consequences for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"We will do what we must to win and to triumph over our enemies," Netanyahu stated. He acknowledged,"There were and there are dis,agreements among us over operations in distant and close theaters. But at the end of the debate, I made a decision and the decision was received."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reiterated US opposition to an operation in Rafah and downplayed the significance of Jerusalem's rhetoric about the planned assault. "Hamas needs to say yes and needs to get this done," Blinken emphasized, stressing the need for Hamas to agree to a proposed truce and hostage deal.

The proposed deal would see at least 33 civilian and sick hostages released in the first phase, followed by later stages establishing a sustainable calm and possible full withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops. In return, Israel would reportedly release hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners. However, far-right coalition parties have slammed the deal as surrendering to Hamas' demands and threatened to topple the government if it is approved.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh stated that the aim of the talks is "reaching an agreement that fulfills the demands of our people and stops the aggression." This position is profoundly at odds with Netanyahu's stance. Israeli government spokeswoman Raquela Karamson claimed, "The only thing preventing a deal is Hamas. Hamas only hardens its conditions and entrenches itself in unreasonable demands."

The war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, 2023, when Hamas-led fighters rampaged through southern communities, killing 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages to Gaza. Since then, 129 hostages were released during a week-long truce in late November, and four more prior to that. The IDF has rescued three hostages alive and recovered the bodies of 12 others, including three mistakenly killed by the military. The deaths of 34 hostages still held by Hamas have been confirmed based on new intelligence.

The war in Gaza approaches its eighth month, and Netanyahu faces a difficult balancing act. He must contend with pressure from far-right coalition partners demanding a more aggressive stance, while also considering the human cost of the conflict and the international community's calls for restraint. With Hamas showing no signs of yielding and the fate of dozens of hostages still uncertain, the path to a resolution remains fraught with challenges.

The ongoing war has taken a heavy toll on both sides, with widespread destruction in Gaza and a mounting death toll. The international community continues to call for an end to the violence and a return to negotiations, but the deep-seated animosity and conflicting goals of the two sides make progress difficult. As Netanyahu pursues his strategy of weakening Hamas without eliminating it entirely, the future of Gaza and the prospects for a lasting peace hang in the balance.

Key Takeaways

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu vows to continue military operations against Hamas in Gaza's Rafah.
  • Netanyahu's goal is to weaken Hamas, not eliminate it, to maintain power and status quo.
  • US opposes Israeli operation in Rafah, urges Hamas to agree to truce and hostage deal.
  • Hamas demands fulfillment of Palestinian demands, while Israel accuses Hamas of hardening conditions.
  • War in Gaza approaches 8 months, with 34 hostages still held, and a heavy toll on both sides.