GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant
Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Following reports that Hamas would agree to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in Gaza, defense officials said Wednesday that Hamas' political officials as well as its ground forces had realized that they were losing the battle against Israel.
During a meeting summing up the military operation so far, IDF officials said the offensive constituted the most serious blow Hamas had received in decades. They said reconstruction of the organization's destroyed foundations could take years, but that Hamas could demonstrate its abilities again very soon.
The IDF admits Hamas retain certain capabilities, but believe deterrence has been afforded by the organization's realization of the consequences that await them if they attempt to employ these capabilities.
IDF officers testified to the destruction in Gaza. Staff-Sergeant Oron Pinto said Hamas operatives "are running away, afraid to fight us face to face or have any contact with us."
Sergeant Avi Aschal said the damage "may be excessive", but that Hamas could only blame itself. "They booby trapped all of the houses and the yards and even their own explosive devices. For me it's a simple dilemma: Either my soldiers or their buildings, and you can see for yourselves what the answer is."
However, according to assessments Hamas is still far from the obliteration many had hoped for. GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant heard from various brigade commanders leading the offensive, who told him their troops were motivated and willing to continue the operation.
Meanwhile the IDF has not received orders to discontinue the incursion, despite reports that Hamas would accept the Egyptian ceasefire. The army is also preparing for the morning after the withdrawal from Gaza, at which time officials fear Hamas may act "illogically".