"It is very possible that we have reached a stage in the war in the northern Gaza Strip where Hamas is no longer operating above ground, because it has lost control there, and it has disappeared into the tunnels. Therefore, after the fighters are close to fully realizing hitting Hamas forces above the ground, and the IDF controls the area, now we have to make efforts in another fight," Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF military intelligence and president of Mind Israel tells "Globes." "In the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas has lost military and government control. To complete the task of dismantling Hamas, it is right to move to the southern half of the Strip, at the same time as dealing with the Hamas tunnels."
500,000 civilians have moved from the north to the south, how do we fight there without hurting civilians?
Most of the civilians are not in the urban areas of Rafah and Khan Younis. They are in regions zoned for civilians as humanitarian havens and they will remain there even when we move to the south of the Gaza Strip. Israel will mark out other areas as safe humanitarian regions.
What in your opinion must be done with the hospitals?
"We must make a balance between certain considerations. The main consideration is to hit the command headquarters below the hospitals. On top of that, we must prove to the world that Hamas is hiding under the hospitals, because the world doubts it. Achieving the aim of descending into the tunnels under the hospitals is complicated and challenging. You have to make sure as much as possible that non-involved citizens are not harmed, because for them the hospitals are a safe area, and they flock there. For ourselves we must cause humanitarian damage, which would damage conscientiousness."
Hostages beneath the hospital?
Yadlin says, "There is another consideration that I have no doubt they are thinking about, and that is whether there are also any hostages in the Hamas command center under the hospital. It should be based on very high-quality intelligence and innovative and creative ideas about how to complete this important mission. That's why it's right to descend into the tunnels securely and slowly, but eventually it will happen."
Many senior officials have said that Israel should release "everyone for everyone", does this not harm Israel's ability to negotiate?
"Hamas is well aware of Israel's sensitivity, and it is also aware that Israel has paid a very heavy price in the past for the return of those held hostage. But what is important now regarding the hostages is to understand that there is only one deal that is on the table, and that is the 'humanitarian deal'. Israel is not required here to pay a price that it cannot pay
"It should also be remembered that this deal, if it is carried out, is made possible because of the ground move that has put enormous pressure on Hamas, which has lost control of Gaza City, lost two brigades and hundreds and maybe thousands of its terrorists. It is paying a heavy price, and it wants the humanitarian break for its own reasons.
"The large and comprehensive deal of 'everyone for everyone' does not exist at this point. Hamas is not ready to give everyone back and engage in this right now. Only when the knife is at Sinwar's neck, we might reach such a deal."
Doesn't their demand for a pause in fighting demonstrate that we must not give it to them?
"I think that a several days pause is not a high price. We are in the Strip and we're not leaving. Strong forces will remain in Gaza and Hamas won't rebuild itself within a few days what has been destroyed and hit. It is not a significant price for returning children, women, and the elderly and everything that is included in the humanitarian deal being formed."
"There was a triple failure here" Before October 7 did we rely too much on the technological array and did we not handle sufficiently the human intelligence that was coming from the field?
"I think that after the war, a very professional and significant commission of inquiry will be set up with people of authority that will examine all dimensions of the catastrophe that occurred on Black Saturday.
"The failure of October 7 is a triple failure: intelligence did not warn; operational preparation that did not respond in the event that there was no intelligence warning; and an incorrect policy of nurturing Hamas and the fact that they allowed it to build an army over the years. All three of these issues must be investigated.
"Regarding your question, it may be that in recent years the technological dimension has indeed been used and over-relied upon at the expense of other intelligence features. All these important issues need to be investigated in depth and in a professional manner, not only to find the culprits, but mainly to repair and restore all the elements of the collapsed security concept, and in my opinion it will be done after the war."
What do you think about 'the day after' that can be expected in Gaza?
The day after depends on the day before the day after. That is, how the campaign that is currently being waged in the Gaza Strip will end. There are two situations. One situation in which Hamas completely collapses, and in fact it is possible to introduce such and such political structures into the Strip. The second situation is a situation in which Hamas is not completely dismantled and still maintains a certain power in the Strip. In such a case it is difficult to imagine that outside forces will take responsibility for the Strip, and then a situation like in Somalia, of complete anarchy may arise. In any case and in any political configuration, Israel must keep security authority in its hands."
"Returning to Gush Katif - a crazy idea"
According to Yadlin, "If Hamas collapses, we need to look at the day after in two stages. The first stage is a stage of transition: basically an international coalition will enter, mainly Arab (centered on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), with US and European support, which will be based on a professional bureaucracy from among the Palestinians. As mentioned, the Strip will be demilitarized and without political Hamas.
"Israel will not allow any party to establish an army in Gaza, and will have full security freedom of action in the Strip. After the interim period, the aim should be to reach an agreement with the local population on civilian administration of the Strip, with Israel still having full security freedom of action."
Do you think that it is right that the Palestinians will have civilian management of Gaza? Is it not worth returning to Gush Katif as some government ministers want?
"Returning to Gush Katif is a crazy idea and severe policy mistake. It has no strategic viability politically and internationally. I think we should approach the Gaza Strip with the following principles. No Hamas, no Israeli occupation, no military force to be built there. Yes, an attempt to restore Gaza as another model of a Palestinian entity, with a vision of turning it into Abu Dhabi or Singapore. All this only on condition that Hamas is displaced from the Strip, and that Palestinians with a different, non-terrorist outlook, will lead the process under Arab and international guidance.
At this point the Palestinian Authority is not qualified for the task. In any case, on the security issue there is no more compromise, there is no longer any deviation from the principle of Israel's freedom of action to prevent a military buildup in the Gaza Strip."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 16, 2023.
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