Peace for Gaza and Israel begins with the defeat of Hamas

Entering Rafah will be painful but it is the only way to achieve stability


A picture taken from Rafah shows kites flown in the sky above the city as smoke billows during an Israeli operation in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on 3 April 3 (Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images)

April 04, 2024 12:34

V After the massacres on October 7, Israel had no choice but to uproot Hamas from Gaza and release the hostages.

It has already made considerable progress towards achieving those goals. It has taken over most of the Gaza strip; destroyed most of Hamas’ military formations (19 out of 24 battalions); killed, captured or injured about 20,000 out of 35-40,000 terror operatives, including some leaders; confiscated huge numbers of weapons; and destroyed a significant amount of both the surface and underground infrastructure of Hamas, much of which was located in or under civilian centres such as Unwra offices, schools, hospitals and private apartments.

But this impressive progress, which has come at a heavy price for both Israel and the Palestinians, is not enough.

Israel is now looking at completing the mission of defeating Hamas, destroying its terror and military capability, denying it the ability to rule Gaza, releasing the hostages and establishing – together with the international community and the moderate Arab world — a new reality in Gaza that will guarantee that it will not be used as a basis for launching terror attacks and will provide a prosperous future to its inhabitants.

Achieving these goals depends on Israel taking over Rafah, Hamas’s last stronghold. But taking Rafah is just a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition for achieving these goals.

Israel needs also to clear the area so that the people of Gaza will be convinced that Hamas is not coming back. In this sense, taking Rafah is also necessary to improve the living conditions for the Gaza population. And in addition, taking Rafah is necessary for containing Iran and its proxies, stabilising the Middle East and securing the West.

To sum up: Entering Rafah is necessary to make sure that Hamas is fully defeated, to ensure that it loses control of Gaza and its population and cannot ever regroup. Only then, after a true victory over Hamas, will Palestinians and Israelis alike have the possibility of future peace.

Yossi Kuperwasser is the former head of the Research Division at the Israel Defense Forces’ Intelligence Corps, and the former Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs

April 04, 2024 12:34

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