Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally in memory of their seven comrades, who were killed when a tunnel collapsed close to the Gaza Strip's eastern border with Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The next war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza will be the last for the Islamist regime, a senior source in the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, though he stressed that Israel will not be the side to initiate hostilities.
Israel has no desire to control the Gaza Strip, the source said, but it will not tolerate an endless “war of attrition” on the part of Hamas.
The next clash must be the last from the point of view of the Hamas regime. We [Israel] must not initiate war,” he added, but said a future outbreak of hostilities is unavoidable.
His comments come after senior military officials made changes to the IDF’s objective for a Gaza conflict. Should hostilities erupt again, military planners would seek the destruction of Hamas’s military wing, not establishing deterrence as they did in past wars.
However, within the IDF’s plans, an option exists of leaving Hamas’s political wing in place alongside a police force.
Speaking on Wednesday, the defense source described Hamas as a growing threat. Any attempt to present it as a pragmatic entity that can be guided into recognizing Israel is “nonsense,” the source said.
“We see how they are educating the next generation.
We see the brainwashing in the Gaza Strip, and how the budget is allocated. Hamas receives funds from the international community and collects taxes. None of this goes to Gazan residents.
All of their money goes to building up force and arming themselves. Their media make clear that there is only one aim for Hamas, and that is destroying the State of Israel,” he said.
The idea that Hamas can be made into a pragmatic force is comparable to asking whether a “cannibal can turn vegetarian,” said the source.
“We see their efforts at building up military force. The next conflict is inevitable,” he stated.
He described the ongoing diplomatic attack on Israel by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “the No. 1 problem for Israel” at this time. “We are strong in the military arena, and weak in the diplomatic arena,” he said.
Abbas is exploiting this weakness to attack Israel, the source argued, adding that the PA president is too weak to be able to reach any peace arrangement with Israel.
Abbas also faces significant challenges to his legitimacy with Palestinian society, and a majority of Palestinians has, in a recent poll, expressed the desire for him to resign, the source added.