With our boots on Hamas' neck, we can't quit now

Opinion - There are two matters to be dealt with as we go into 3rd phase of offensive: Netanyahu must articulate a post-war strategy, and those calling for the end of the fighting must accept Hamas must be vanquished, no matter the cost

Neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor those demanding an end to the war have a clear post-war strategy. ending the conflict in the heels of the major disaster which claimed the lives of 21 of Israel's finest would be an unthinkable error, paving the way to the next October 7, only worse, since this time, Hezbollah would be emboldened by perceived Israeli weakness.
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And if anyone thinks retreating now would somehow result in the release of the hostages, they are wrong. Hamas is keenly aware of the leverage the hostages provide, so a protracted process of negotiations is what the terrorist organization is hoping for.
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Stuck in the Gaza quagmire
(Illustration: Yotam Fishbein)
Once IDF forces finish clearing Khan Younis, Rafah is next, as it would cause irreparable harm to Hamas, which is already dealing with a massive loss to its forces. Their capabilities are declining and the IDF estimates some 9,000 Hamas operatives have been killed since the offensive began, with likely the same number, or more, wounded.
IDF troops encounter terrorists in Khan Younis
Effectively, that would mean two-thirds of the Hamas fighting force would be unable to take up arms against Israel. That said, they do have more than 10,000 fighters left.
So with our hostages still languishing in Gaza, exerting more military pressure is the only thing that can expedite their release and help bring about a sense of security for Israelis who wish to live near the border, not to mention the peace of mind it would bring if Hezbollah escalates matters further in the north.
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תיעוד מפעילות הכוחות ברצועת עזה
תיעוד מפעילות הכוחות ברצועת עזה
IDF troops in Khan Younis
(Photo: IDF)
But it seems many in Israel have come to believe in impending defeat. They claim the lack of tangible accomplishments are all the proof we need that it's time to stop. Some even acquiesce to Hamas' continued stranglehold on Gaza, as if October 7 never happened and we're still as clueless about what Hamas is capable of as we were on October 6. No matter what, we cannot accept Hamas remaining the governing force in Gaza.
 Avi Issacharoff Avi IssacharoffPhoto: Yuval Hen
And that's where the post-war strategy must come in, despite Netanyahu being unreasonably silent on the matter, compromising Israel's security. Sure, he's more than happy to send diplomatic delegations to knock on White House doors, but simultaneously rules out any Palestinian Authority involvement in Gaza's civilian governing the day after, most likely taking a public hard line to avoid raising the ire of his most hawkish coalition partners, namely National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Victory over Hamas isn't enough. Israel must formulate a post-war strategy, and then stick to it.
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