update deskIsrael at War

Hagari: Hamas terror will continue after Rafah operation

The IDF spokesperson also downplayed the Biden administration's confirmation that it blocked an arms shipment to Israel.

Palestinian terrorists patrol in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 1, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinian terrorists patrol in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 1, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday that Hamas will still pose a threat even after a military operation in Rafah city, its last stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at the Ynet and Yediot Ahronot “People of the State” conference at Expo Tel Aviv, Hagari said, “I want to tell the public, so that they do not delude themselves: Even after we deal with Rafah, there will be terror. Hamas will move northwards and try to reconstitute itself, even in the next few days. In every place Hamas returns to, including in northern and central Gaza, we will return to operating.”

The spokesperson put the Gaza war in perspective from the military’s point of view on the 215th day of fighting since the Hamas-led massacre of Oct. 7.

“We took an operational plan for the war for approval by the political echelon. Within this plan, we mapped out the war, which was estimated to be about a year of fighting,” Hagari explained.

“Within this year, we saw that we would first of all deal with Hamas’s greatest centers of power, which are mostly in northern Gaza and Khan Yunis. Gaza is perhaps one of the most difficult battlefields in the world, in terms of its population density and the tunnels which Hamas dug underground.”

Asked why the Rafah operation was delayed, with a targeted operation only starting in the past few days, Hagari said, “The operational conditions necessary to carry it out did not exist.”

Hagari also downplayed the confirmation by the Biden administration on Tuesday that it had held up a munitions shipment to Israel. A senior official told CBS News that the United States last week stopped a delivery of thousands of heavy bombs over fears that they could be used during Israel’s military operation in Rafah.

It marks the first time since the Hamas-led assault on the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7 and ensuing war in Gaza that Washington has held up arms supplies to its Middle Eastern ally.

Hagari said that the two countries resolve their differences “behind closed doors,” adding that the coordination between the United States and Israel since Oct. 7 has been of “a scope without precedent, I think, in Israel’s history.”

Pressed about the stalled delivery, Hagari said, “We are responsible for the security interests of Israel, and we pay attention to the U.S. interests in the arena.”

He also praised the level of coordination between Israel and the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) since the start of the war, emphasizing that operational cooperation was more important than security assistance.

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