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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Eliminating Hamas: Obstacles and Opportunity

Filed under: Hamas, Operation Swords of Iron

Eliminating Hamas: Obstacles and Opportunity
Hamas fighters attacked Israelis at a music festival on October 7, 2023.

Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization but is also a significant religious and political movement deeply rooted in Palestinian society.

Israel will find it challenging to eliminate Hamas completely, but it can, through an extensive military operation, assassination of its military leadership, and destruction of the military infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

Senior officials in the Israeli political system and officers at the top of the Israeli Defense Forces make various statements in the media, including a promise to eliminate the Hamas organization through a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The declarations may stem from the rage over the terrible massacre carried out by Hamas terrorists in the settlements surrounding Gaza and a desire for revenge. But is this task indeed possible, and can the IDF fulfill this mission?

Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who served as commander of the U.S. Army’s Central Command and was responsible for the war against ISIS, told Prime Minister Netanyahu on October 13, 2023, “Hamas is a much worse organization than the ISIS organization.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (GPO/Amos Ben Gershom)

However, in 2006, it won the Palestinian Legislative Council (Parliament) elections.

Although a Sunni organization, it receives large amounts of weapons and money from Shiite Iran.

Since the “Guardians of the Walls” operation in May 2021, Hamas’ popularity on the Palestinian street has dramatically increased after positioning itself as the “defender of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Israel will have difficulty uprooting Hamas, which is deeply rooted in Palestinian society. Still, the IDF can eliminate the military leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and its military infrastructure, such as the tunnel system, rocket depots, production workshops, drone systems, and more.

Steps Israel Should Take

Breaking the military power of Hamas in the Gaza Strip is possible but requires an extensive and complex military operation throughout the entire strip.

At the same time, Israel should take a series of additional steps to weaken the power of the Hamas organization.

  1. Launching an extensive international campaign demanding that Qatar expel the Hamas leadership from its capital, Doha, where they reside.
  2. The elimination of the leadership of Hamas abroad. The Israeli Mossad should pursue the leaders of Hamas worldwide as it pursued the “Black September” organization and eliminate them. The “Black September” organization massacred Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
  3. Israel should arrest all Hamas leaders in Judea and Samaria.
  4. Israel must demand from Turkey the closure of the offices of the Hamas military branch in Istanbul that directs the terrorism in Judea and Samaria.

After the heinous Hamas crimes, Israel received from the United States and other countries in the West extensive freedom of action against this terrorist organization on the condition that it obeys international law and avoids harming innocent Palestinians. The IDF must proceed with its mission carefully.

Israel should focus on hitting military targets only and eliminating the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip hiding in bunkers and tunnels.

Israel is in a race against time, and its window of opportunity may close quickly if it makes mistakes regarding violating international law. One errant bomb in a Palestinian civilian building could end its noble mission to root out evil.