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Is Hamas at a Breaking Point? and what should be Israel's Next Move?

Recent reports from Israeli media reveal that several Hamas terrorist who surrendered mentioned the loss of contact with their leadership as a primary reason for their surrender. This is perceived by the IDF as an indication of significant damage to Hamas's command and control structure. 

 

This development marks a considerable change from the situation during the ceasefire over two weeks ago. At that time, Hamas appeared to have full operational control, effectively enforcing the ceasefire across Gaza, including areas under IDF control.


Hamas fighter waving a white flag

Our analysis "How could Israel really defeat Hamas?" underscores Hamas's military tactics characterized by a decentralized command structure. This design enables field battalions to function effectively with minimal direct communication with higher leadership. Nonetheless, the recent probable breakdown in communication appears to have led to a number of surrenders.

 

Moreover, there are emerging signs of growing disenchantment among Gaza's civilian population. Incidental coverage on Al Jazeera, often seen as aligning with Hamas, has unintentionally showcased Gazans openly criticizing Hamas and sometimes Qatar.

 

From a broader perspective, the primary threat now seems to emerge from an unexpected source: The Houthis in Yemen. Their threat on Israeli maritime traffic through the Bab al Mandab strait presents a strategic threat. Conversely, Hezbollah appears to be maintaining a cautious approach, avoiding actions that could escalate into a regional conflict. This is a source of disappointment for Hamas.

 

Key Implications

  1. The intense phase of the war in Gaza may be winding down, transitioning to a prolonged, lower-intensity conflict.

  2. Israel might opt for a different strategy, especially considering the escalating tensions with Hezbollah in the north. Israel appears ready for a comprehensive military and political campaign against Hezbollah, aimed at pushing them beyond the Litani River as as stipulated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 following the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

  3. Nevertheless, this change in focus does not signify the end of threats from other fronts, including Hamas in Lebanon, Iranian-backed militias in the Golan, or the Houthis, suggesting an extended period of regional challenges ahead.

  4. The situation of hostages remains uncertain. Hamas's weakened state could lead to a humanitarian deal, possibly including women and the elderly. However, diminished command control might hinder any potential hostage agreement's implementation.

While it remains uncertain whether Hamas is approaching a critical juncture, Israel should be strategically prepared for such a possibility.

 

It's essential for Israel to assess whether the current period, characterized by heightened military readiness and strong social unity, presents an optimal chance to transform its security environment.

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