Senior Israeli official says Hamas cannot be eliminated

Hamas has refused to be cast aside in any future plans for Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Hamas cannot be eliminated “as an idea”, a senior Israeli official has said, adding that this requires Israel to offer Palestinians an alternative solution in Gaza.

Speaking to attendees at the Herzliya Security Conference near Tel Aviv on Tuesday, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, said Israel needs to present Palestinians with “an alternative idea and not just destroy its [Hamas’] military capabilities.”

He suggested that this could be a “local leadership that is ready to live alongside Israel and not dedicate its existence to trying to kill Israelis,” Hanegbi said.

He revealed that the Israeli cabinet had given the army the green light to begin looking for a new leadership for Gaza months ago.

“I expect that in the coming days we will see the concrete realization of this plan,” he continued, as quoted by Israeli media.

“We believe in it and believe it will put Hamas under great pressure.”

Hamas has refused to be cast aside in any post-war Gaza plans, but Israel has remained adamant that it does not want the group to rule the enclave any longer.

Hanegbi’s comments echo remarks made recently by Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari.

“Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a political party. It is rooted in the hearts of people – whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is mistaken,” Hagari told Israel’s Channel 13 last week.

Hamas “is the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s been around for many, many years,” he added. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “crush” Hamas in the Gaza Strip ever since the Palestinian group’s surprise attack in southern Israel on October 7.

Israel’s indiscriminate air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip has killed over 37,700 people to date, mostly women and children.

But Hamas says it still has extensive military capability enabling it to continue the fight against Israel, prompting Israel’s allies to question the feasibility of continuing the Gaza offensive.

Citing US intel, a report by Politico last month said only about a third of Hamas’ fighters have been killed and around the same fraction of the group’s tunnels have been destroyed in Israeli bombardment.

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