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Does Netanyahu have a plan beyond his own survival?

The Gaza war has now entered its eighth month and a resolution to the conflict still seems far off.

Israel claims to have killed 13,000 Hamas militants so far. If that figure is correct, one can assume the number of wounded or incapacitated militants is at least twice or maybe three times that number.

Prior to the war breaking out, Israel estimated there were around 30,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza. If this total can also be taken at face value, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be correct in arguing the removal of the last battalions in the southern city of Rafah would likely thwart the group’s ability to be a threat to Israel.

However, there are flaws in this reasoning. Israel has not explained how it calculates the number of militants the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has killed. Given the chaotic conditions in Gaza, it’s not difficult to believe the 13,000 figure is merely an estimate based on the approximate number of military-aged men (18-40 years) among the 35,000 Palestinians killed in total.

In addition, if the remaining militants are hiding in tunnels beneath Rafah, as Netanyahu claims, what is to stop them from using the tunnel network to move north out of harm’s way? There is some evidence this is already occurring. The IDF and Israeli media say Hamas has regrouped in areas in central and northern Gaza that Israel claims to have “cleared” months ago.

More importantly, the IDF has been unable to locate and eliminate the two primary Hamas leaders – political leader Yahya Sinwar, who masterminded the October 7 attacks, and military leader Mohammed Deif. While these two remain at large, Israel cannot claim victory.

On top of that, Israel has not succeeded in rescuing the remaining hostages held by Hamas. Only