National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi says in a lengthy television interview that it is impossible to say how much longer the ongoing war against the Hamas terror group in Gaza will last, and that it may not even be possible to measure it “in months.”
“The Americans have not set any deadline” for the end of the operation in Gaza, Hanegbi tells Channel 12 news. “Yesterday they denied setting a deadline. They understand that they can’t tell the IDF how long it needs to achieve the goals… They share the goals of returning the hostages, which is a campaign that a date cannot be set for, and of destroying Hamas. Therefore, the assessment [that achieving the goals of the war in Gaza] cannot be measured in weeks is correct, and I’m not sure it can be measured in months.”
Hanegbi says that he believes Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar will want Hamas to fight to the end, “but if we kill him, and that’s the plan, it is possible that the leadership that succeeds him may understand that to avoid his fate, it will need to leave Gaza, defeated.” He indicates that killing Sinwar, therefore, may be a key step toward both war aims — destroying Hamas in Gaza and returning the hostages.
“I don’t think [Sinwar] has internalized that the IDF will get to everywhere it wants in Gaza,” he warns.
He says that at least 7,000 terrorists have been killed during the war so far. It isn’t clear if this figure includes the at least 1,000 killed inside Israel in the immediate aftermath of the mass invasion and onslaught of October 7.
Hanegbi says the IDF is now very near to the Hamas centers of command in Jabaliya and Shejaiya, two key Hamas centers in northern Gaza.
He says IDF efforts to rescue hostages are incredibly high risk “because their captors are waiting with their fingers on the trigger” for fear of such rescue efforts. That’s how two IDF commandos were injured yesterday in an operation, he says; two terrorists were eliminated and it turned out there were no hostages there.
“Military pressure could produce another halt in the fighting” and the release of further hostages, he says.
“We came to this operation [to eliminate Hamas] 17 years too late,” he says. Today, Israel realizes that it has to be done, even at a heavy price, because the alternative will be far more costly, Hanegbi says.