Opinion

Free the hostages? Defeat Hamas? How to achieve victory in Gaza

If you want to topple the Hamas government, you have no choice but to replace it with another, which, even if it is not Zionist and loves Israel, isn't as bad as Hamas. Those who oppose this prove that even today they still view Hamas as an asset.

Destruction in Gaza (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Netanyahu has been promising us victory for seven months. According to him, we are just one step away from complete victory. The soldiers leaving Gaza try to cheer us up by telling us how successful they are in every encounter with terrorists. It seems to me that in honor of Israel's 76th Independence Day, we should find out for ourselves what the word "victory" actually means.

A winner is not the one who hurt the enemy more. A winner is the one who achieved his goals.

Let's remember what the goals of the war were that were announced at the beginning: the destruction of Hamas from a military and governmental point of view and the return of the hostages.

Regarding the first goal, it is true that we have hurt Hamas and weakened its ability to fight us, but we are very far from defeating it from a military and governmental point of view. Even in places where the IDF was operating in full force, Hamas is still in control, and certainly in ones not under our control.

The second goal was only partially achieved. 132 hostages are still waiting for us to rescue them. We do not know how many of them are still alive, but it is clear that their number is decreasing day by day.

So it is true that Gaza has been destroyed and most of the houses in it have been seriously damaged. Tens of thousands were killed and it is clear that the residents of Gaza will remember the terrible price of war for decades to come. But that was not our goal. That's not why we went to war. Even if Gaza is completely destroyed, including Rafah, we will not be able to declare victory as long as we have not achieved the goals set at the beginning.

Hamas, on the other hand, achieved all of its goals: it dealt us a fatal blow that we too will remember for decades to come, if not more. Unlike Hamas, we have no goal to "hurt the enemy." Harming the enemy from our point of view is a means designed to deter him and prevent him from acting against us. As far as Hamas is concerned, hurting us is a goal in of itself, and unfortunately this goal has been achieved.

Another goal that Hamas can point to, at least for the time being, is preventing the peace agreement with Saudi Arabia. Documents found in Gaza testified that this was one of the main goals of Hamas, and unfortunately it was also achieved.

The third goal set by Hamas has achieved is significant damage to Israel's international relations with an emphasis on European countries in general and the United States in particular. The conflict with Gaza exposed and awakened dormant cells of antisemitism all over Europe, several countries have already imposed an economic embargo on Israel at one level or another, the United States has indeed rallied to support us with all its might, but as time goes by relations with it are also being undermined and this is the first time that it has delayed the shipment of weapons to Israel, especially during wartime.

If we want to change the equation and achieve victory, we need to act on several levels:

We must understand that dismantling Hamas from a military and governmental point of view is a long-term task that requires us to treat Gaza as we treat Judea and Samaria: we must constantly act in Gaza to prevent the enemy from strengthening militarily. This is not an intense war limited in time, but a long-term war, similar to what is being done in Judea and Samaria.

If you want to topple the Hamas government, you have no choice but to replace it with another, which, even if it is not Zionist and loves Israel, is not as bad as Hamas. Those who oppose this prove that even today they still see Hamas as an asset. What else needs to happen for us to wake up from this dangerous conception?

What is clear is that we cannot achieve victory without the return of all the hostages. This is a supreme and holy goal, not only because we have an infinite obligation to those who were abandoned on October 7, but because we will not be able to recover from the severe trauma we suffered until the last of the abductees is returned.

Since it is not possible to save everyone in a military operation, there is no escaping a deal. We must remember the words of the Shulchan Aruch - the code of Jewish Law: "Anyone who is late in redeeming the captives where it is possible to get ahead is as if he were shedding blood."

In addition, we must vigorously promote the peace agreement with Saudi Arabia, restore Israel's relations with European countries, and strengthen relations with the United States. Those who propose to realize the dubious blessing of the evil Bila'am: "They are a people will dwell alone and the Gentiles will not be considered" should remember that they are fulfilling Sinwar's ambitions to isolate and weaken Israel.

As of today, even if Gaza is completely destroyed and Sinwar is hiding underground, Netanyahu's can't declare that he has achieved his goals and attained victory.

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