Hamas still has significant forces in Gaza, White House says

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in Gaza City on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP/Mohammed Hajjar)
Palestinians walk past destroyed buildings in Gaza City on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. (AP/Mohammed Hajjar)

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says Hamas “still has a significant force posture inside Gaza, but Israel’s goal to defeat the terror group remains attainable.”

Kirby acknowledges, though, that while it’s possible for Israel to significantly degrade Hamas’s capabilities by eliminating the terror group’s leadership, the IDF won’t likely be able to “erase the group from existence.”

“You are probably not going to eliminate the ideology,” Kirby says, reiterating the US belief that only by presenting a viable path toward peace can the vision of Hamas be successfully combated.

Kirby notes that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held a phone call Tuesday with Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, a top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss the Israel-Gaza war and efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by terrorists in the Strip

“They discussed ongoing Israeli military operations and ongoing efforts to see if we can secure the release of the remaining hostages,” Kirby says.

Kirby insists that hostage talks are ongoing and serious, despite the growing understanding that the sides are at a crossroads.

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