Is Israel planning all-out war on Hamas?
There are rumblings that Israel is threatening a war to end all wars against Hamas, one comparable to World War II.
It has been two years since the last Israeli war on the Gaza Strip. As both sides mark the occasion, Israeli politicians have made several official statements and military experts have published press analyses indicating that an upcoming military confrontation with Hamas is not only inevitable, but will completely eliminate Hamas.
Hamas, on the other hand, claims the threats are mostly bluster, but says it is ready for whatever comes its way.
The clamor began to rise in June.
An Israeli military source close to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman threatened June 15 that the upcoming war will banish Hamas’ rule in Gaza and will be the last one against the movement. Israel cannot keep engaging in endless wars of attrition year in, year out. Therefore, the next confrontation will be terminal, whether it happens sooner or later, the source said.
Gen. Kobi Barak, the head of the Technological and Logistics Directorate in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), noted June 30 that the upcoming war on the Gaza Strip will be fierce. He compared it to World War II because Israel will be under intense shelling, and the Palestinians will launch anti-tank missiles and infiltrate Israeli settlements on Gaza’s outskirts.
On Aug. 10, Yohay Awfar, a military expert at the Israeli NRG news website, said the calm along Gaza’s borders indicates Hamas is still practicing deterrence, as it has since the 2014 war. Israel continues to improve its fighting system and it will subdue Hamas one last time, he said.
Retired Palestinian Maj. Gen. Wasef Erekat told Al-Monitor, “The Israeli command we are up against is declaring a possible violent war on Gaza. The real challenge for Tel Aviv consists of the potential risks of this scenario due to its destructive aspect. Any damage that Israel causes will not only affect Gaza, [because] Palestinians have military capacities that might cause similar damage in Israeli cities, even if relatively less.
“Although Israel has lethal powers and bombs that can target Gaza’s buildings, streets, infrastructure and power stations, I believe that it will just maintain its ‘mowing the lawn’ policies [a phrase meaning to clean the land of its people] with the Palestinian resistance in Gaza every other year without engaging in a full-on war.”
Israel’s statements against Hamas were not restricted to the media. In recent weeks, the IDF has engaged in field trainings mimicking military scenarios in a possible upcoming war on Gaza. The Israeli navy conducted a maneuver Aug. 13 in the Mediterranean Sea to simulate a naval attack from Gaza or Lebanon on an Israeli ship. Armed Palestinian factions pose an increasing risk to the Israeli fleet on its southern front in Gaza. Israeli naval ships have become a top target for Hamas.
Indeed, Ahmad Bahar, the Hamas leader and deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, had announced in early April that the naval force of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, will change the situation for the Israeli army in the upcoming war. He also praised this force and its readiness to engage in new battles with the Israeli army.
Also, an Israeli unit carried out a training exercise Aug. 15 against a hypothetical situation in which a Palestinian cell consisting of 20 armed men from Gaza infiltrates Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip through border tunnels between Gaza and Israel.
Official Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Al-Monitor, “The consecutive Israeli threats against Gaza claiming that the upcoming war will be the last are mere media propaganda and factional biddings between the government and the [parliamentary] opposition in Israel. [Yet,] despite the lack of field indicators heralding a new war on Gaza, the Palestinian people are ready to defend themselves, and they do not care about the threats. At the same time, the resistance is preparing unprecedented surprises, and the [Israeli] army must have learned a lesson or two from the 2014 Gaza war and the great performance of the resistance.”
Although Hamas says it refuses to be terrorized
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