On the 12th day of fighting in the Gaza Strip, the defense establishment is seeing that Hamas is in deep distress. This isn't only coming to fruition on the physical front, but also in the morale of the organization's political and military echelons.
From Hamas' viewpoint, it seems as though the current IDF operation has crossed all the red lines. Hamas officials are even making statements in the vein that Israel has lost control.
According to figures collected thus far by Israel's defense establishment, Hamas' military infrastructure has sustained a serious hit, but their rocket capabilities still exist. A number of Hamas commanders have been killed or wounded during fighting, making it increasing difficult for their military wing to function properly.
The defense establishment has also noted that Hamas has been exercising caution in clashes with IDF soldiers. Hamas is tending not to put their forces at risk in areas in which they may fail. The IDF hit some of Hamas' senior commanders, while those who have survived have gone underground. In many instances, the IDF has taken precaution not to target some of these commanders in their various hiding places, many of which are in heavily populated areas, when there is significant risk that innocent civilians could be hurt.
Hamas' method of operation forces Israel to choose between two alternatives – striking the organization's senior officials, along with innocent bystanders, or carrying out surgical strikes, which is more likely to jeopardize IDF forces on the ground.
To the last drop of blood
Another trend coming from Gaza at this stage in the fighting is Hamas' willingness to fight to the very last drop of their population's blood. There is a tacit understanding amongst Hamas officials that the organization is not a shield for the Palestinian population, but there to protect their own associates only.
Hamas is still taking action against Fatah affiliates and is willing to take all measures in order to swipe at them. For instance, this week a 70-year-old elderly man was shot to death when he refused to disclose the location of his son, a Fatah operative.
The name of the game for Hamas at the moment, defense officials say is to reach significant psychological achievements, such as kidnapping a soldier or firing rockets that will cause damage to Israeli life and property. To this end, Hamas is exercising great caution in this arena and is preserving their weapons caches, even rationing them so that their inventory does not run out too soon.
The defense establishment estimates that Hamas' military echelons will avoid any agreements within the framework of a ceasefire that will allow a international observation along the Philadelphi Route. However, the organization's political echelons, examining the issue from a broader perspective, is likely to force the issue.
Israeli defense officials are on the look out for any attempts on the part of Hamas to carry out massive terrorist attacks against Israel alongside the fighting in the Gaza Strip.