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24.06.2024 | יח סיון התשפד

Shifting Strategies in the Israel-Hamas War

Is it time to reshape the battle field and shift from military conquest to strategic reconstruction in the Gaza Strip?

Israel - Hamas war, Gaza, War in Israel, War In Gaza, Gaza strip

The current Israel-Hamas war in Gaza represents a significant departure from Israel's traditional defence approach. Unlike previous conflicts aimed primarily at neutralizing military threats, this war seeks to dismantle the Hamas regime entirely, pushing Israel beyond its strategic comfort zone.

This conflict, described as Israel's first "total war" since the War of Independence, is unprecedented in its scope and duration. Despite efforts to provide humanitarian aid, the war's goals extend far beyond the military dimension, aiming for the complete removal of Hamas from power.

Israel's strategy, however, faces significant challenges. The war appears to have reached a stalemate, with pressure mounting on Israel from various fronts - including international criticism, economic strain, and the ongoing hostage situation. To regain the initiative, some strategists propose a novel approach: using the reconstruction of Gaza as a strategic lever against Hamas.

The proposed strategy involves a gradual, controlled rehabilitation of parts of Gaza. This would include creating secure zones for rebuilding, managed by an Arab-American-Palestinian coalition. These areas would implement de-radicalization programs and alternative education systems, aiming to undermine Hamas's control and influence.

This approach presents an opportunity for Israel to reshape the Gaza Strip according to its security interests. By transitioning from a terror-finance-based economy to a productive one, Israel hopes to create conditions that could lead to long-term stability and potentially influence the situation in the West Bank.

However, the issue of Gaza's future remains politically contentious within Israel. The right wing of the coalition government resists discussions about post-war scenarios, preferring to focus on military objectives. This has led to what some describe as strategic paralysis at a crucial juncture.

Despite these challenges, there's a growing recognition that stabilizing Gaza as a functioning civilian space is crucial for any future political arrangement, whether it involves settlement or disengagement. The rehabilitation of Gaza, while a difficult concept for many Israelis to accept after the October attacks, may prove to be Israel's ultimate weapon against Hamas.

As the war continues, Israel faces the complex task of balancing military objectives with long-term strategic goals. The decisions made in the coming months could significantly shape the future of Gaza, Israeli security, and the broader regional dynamics. This war may well be remembered as a painful but necessary process of strategic readjustment for Israel.

Originally written by Brig. Gen Eran Ortal for the Besa Center.