Senior Hamas official: IDF spokesman ‘confessed’ Israel has failed in Gaza war goals

Ghazi Hamad tells Al Jazeera: Hagari’s comment that Hamas ideology can’t be eliminated from ‘the hearts of the people’ constitutes an admission ‘that [Israel] has already failed’

Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas's political bureau, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut, Lebanon, October 26, 2023. (AP/Bilal Hussein)
Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas's political bureau, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut, Lebanon, October 26, 2023. (AP/Bilal Hussein)

A senior Hamas official sought to capitalize on comments by the Israeli military’s spokesman that appeared to cast the Gaza war aim of eradicating the terror group as unattainable, as the terror group’s top political leader claimed Israel had already failed to meet its war goals.

Hamas politburo member Ghazi Hamad called the remarks from Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari a “frank confession.”

“This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear — it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” Hagari had told Channel 13 news in an interview on Wednesday.

“Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people — anyone who thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong,” he continued.

The Israeli military has clarified that Hagari was referring to “eradicating Hamas as an ideology and an idea.”

Hamad, who fled Gaza shortly before the terror group’s October 7 massacre sparked the ongoing war, told Al Jazeera later Wednesday that the IDF spokesperson had admitted “that [Israel] has already failed.”

“This will change the course of history and will convince the international community that the Hamas movement will remain in the political scene, and will be a permanent part of the social fabric and the fabric of resistance,” said Hamad.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari delivers an English-language address, June 16, 2024. (Screenshot)

He also argued that Hagari’s comments were evidence of discord within the Israeli government, where tensions had previously arisen between camps seeking to end the war and free the hostages and those backing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that fighting continues until Hamas is wiped out.

Those disagreements led former war cabinet minister Benny Gantz to pull his National Unity party out of the coalition last week.

In recent months, thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets every week to attend anti-government protests calling for Netanyahu to close a deal to secure the release of the remaining hostages held by terror groups in Gaza.

Hamad also blamed Jerusalem for the failure to seal a hostage-for-ceasefire deal, as Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh told Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri that Israel has failed in its objectives in the war in Gaza, according to Iranian state media.

Israel declared war after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 251 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

Meeting with families of hostages killed in captivity, Netanyahu on Thursday reiterated Israel’s war goals: “We won’t leave the Strip until all the hostages return and we won’t leave until we eliminate Hamas’s military and governing capabilities.”

Israel’s wide-scale military campaign has so far taken northern Gaza and Gaza City, some parts of central Gaza, southern Gaza’s Khan Younis and parts of Rafah, thought to be the terror group’s last major redoubt.

Illustrative: A tank operates in the central Gaza Strip, in a handout photo published June 13, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli officials have said Hamas has four remaining battalions in the Gaza Strip, including two in the southern city of Rafah, Shaboura (North) and Tel Sultan (West), and two more in central Gaza, in the Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah camps.

In a Thursday meeting in Doha, Haniyeh lauded what he saw as positive developments since the terror group’s October 7 massacre and the ensuing war, including social upheaval within Israel, its diplomatic standing in the region and around the world, anti-Israel protests in the US and around the world and attacks launched by Iranian-proxies in the region, according to Iran’s Press TV.

During the meeting, the Iranian official said that “it is necessary to take advantage of all capacities to make the aggression and crime of the Zionists costly and the resistance should not be limited in armed resistance against the invaders,” Iran’s state-run IRNA news outlet reported.

Haniyeh also called for legal, political and diplomatic means to fight Israel, “along with the armed resistance.”

Qatar has hosted Hamas’s politburo leaders, including Haniyeh, since 2012. Other terror groups in the Iran-backed “Axis of Resistance,” including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, have launched campaigns against Israel since October 7 in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The Doha meeting came a day after Haniyeh met with Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who pressed him to compromise on some of the revisions the terror group submitted last week to Israel’s latest hostage-for-ceasefire proposal, according to a government official familiar with the matter.

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R), in a meeting with Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and official Khaled Mashal in Doha, Qatar, October 17, 2016. (Qatar government handout)

Efforts by Qatari, Egyptian and American negotiators have failed to bear fruit since a week-long truce in November, with the sides unable to bridge the gap on the fundamental issue in the talks: Hamas is looking for a hostage deal that permanently ends the war triggered by its October 7 onslaught, while Israel is only willing to agree to a temporary ceasefire, as it aims to finish dismantling the terror group.

In the Al Jazeera interview, Hamad said that Israel’s “intransigent position is what makes it impossible to reach an agreement, as it rejects the formula of a permanent ceasefire, a comprehensive withdrawal, the return of [the population], or anything else.”

Hamad charged that the Biden administration is “not an honest broker” and called the United States “a partner in aggression and genocide.”

He also insisted that the organization will be able to regroup after the war, despite Israel’s insistence on continuing its offensive until Hamas’s military and governance capabilities in Gaza are destroyed.

Protesters demand early elections and a deal to release hostages held in the Gaza Strip, in Tel Aviv on June 15, 2024. (Jack Guez/AFP)

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 41 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

Lazar Berman and Jacob Magid contributed to this report. 

Most Popular
read more: