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Tensions at the top of the Israeli state against the backdrop of “decisive battle” in Rafah

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli Agence France-Presse The Minister of Defense, Yoav Gallant, urged Benjamin Netanyahu to prepare for the post-Hamas era, stressing that “the end of the military campaign must be accompanied by political action”, publicly opposing the Prime Minister who can before had ruled out “any discussion on the future of the Gaza Strip” before “Hamas is annihilated”.

Mark Anderson – Associated Press in Jerusalem

Published yesterday at 10:10 a.m.

  • Middle East

Dissensions have emerged at the top of the Israeli state around the post-war scenario in the Gaza Strip, at a time when the government claims to be waging the “decisive battle” there to annihilate Hamas.

Entering the 8th month of war, the Israeli army launched ground operations on May 7 in Rafah, a town backed by the Egyptian border on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, where, according to her, the last Hamas battalions are hiding.

But, on May 15, when the offensive had barely been launched, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged Benjamin Netanyahu to prepare for the post-Hamas era, stressing that “the end of the military campaign must be accompanied by political action”, publicly opposing the prime minister who shortly before had ruled out “any discussion on the “future of the Gaza Strip” before “Hamas is wiped out.”

“A government alternative to Hamas will be prepared immediately,” insisted Mr. Gallant, clearly indicating that he would oppose the Gaza Strip being placed under Israeli civil or military administration and calling on Mr. Netanyahu to declare that this will not be the case.

These remarks aroused the anger of government ministers, including Ministers of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, leaders of two small far-right parties, key players in the government coalition, who called for Gallant's departure.

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“Price to pay”

“With Gallant’s criticisms […], real cracks appeared in the within the Israeli war cabinet”, estimates Colin P. Clarke, research director at the Soufan Group think tank. a replacement for Hamas, which Israel considers terrorist, it cannot be defeated.

“Without an alternative to fill the void, Hamas will continue to prosper,” says to AFP Mairav ​​Zonszein, analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG).

“If Hamas is left alone in Gaza, of course it will appear here and there and the Israeli army will be forced to run everywhere,” adds Emmanuel Navon, professor at Tel Aviv University.

The United States, Israel's main military supporter, is also urging Mr. Netanyahu to avoid being stuck, after the conflict, in an endless counter-insurgency campaign. Washington estimated at the end of March that a “revitalized Palestinian Authority” could play a role in “creating the conditions for stability in both the West Bank and Gaza”, Palestinian territories still considered occupied under international law.

An idea brushed aside by Mr. Netanyahu, for whom the Palestinian Authority (PA), driven out of Gaza in 2007 by Hamas and which he accuses of “supporting” and “financing terrorism”, is “certainly not” a option to rule the Gaza Strip.

For Yoav Gallant, “the “day after Hamas” will only exist with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors.”

“It is, above all, in the interest of the State of Israel” because “the “military administration of Gaza would become Israel's main military and security effort” in the coming years and “the price to pay would be a bloodbath […] as well as a heavy economic cost”, he estimated.

“Heavy” fighting

On October 7, Hamas launched an attack major in the south of Israel, which led to the death, on the Israeli side, of more than 1,170 people, according to an AFP report established using official Israeli data.

In response, Israel launched an all-out offensive on the Gaza Strip, which has already left a heavy toll of 35,000 dead, mostly civilians, according to data from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

While Israel says it has begun the “decisive battle” of Rafah, Israeli soldiers have been confronting Hamas fighters in the north of the territory again since May 12.

The army nevertheless proclaimed in January that it had “completed the dismantling of the military structure” of Hamas in the north. It now admits to carrying out, in Jabaliya, its “perhaps the fiercest” battles in this area since the start of its ground offensive on October 27.

A sign that the “annihilation” of Hamas, one of the war’s goals, may not be so close. As for the cherished hopes of a truce negotiated in Cairo with Hamas, they faded with the start of operations in Rafah.

The truce agreement “is in a total stalemate” and “Israel is pretending there is progress,” says Ms. Zonszein. The tensions at the top of the state, “plus the disagreements with the United States and Egypt's refusal to let aid through” since the Israeli offensive in Rafah, “all this is starting to add up to a lot”, she adds.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116