newsIsrael at War

IDF spokesman: Hamas will still exist in five years

The Israeli government's stated war goals include to destroy the terrorist group as a military and governing force in Gaza.

IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari at the Israel Hayom conference in Ashkelon, April 16, 2024. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari at the Israel Hayom conference in Ashkelon, April 16, 2024. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.

Though Hamas is no longer capable of executing an Oct. 7-style attack, the Israeli military will have to fight the terrorist group in the Gaza Strip for years to come, IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on Monday.

“Hamas will remain with the ambition to be a terror organization,” Hagari told ABC’s Matt Gutman during a visit to Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city. “Will you and me be talking five years from now about Hamas as a terror organization in Gaza? The answer is yes.”

The Israeli government’s stated war goals include to destroy Hamas as a military and governing force in Gaza and to ensure that it can not threaten the Jewish state. Returning all hostages taken by Hamas during the massacre on Oct. 7 is another main objective.

The IDF have dismantled most of Hamas’s 24 terror battalions in Gaza, focusing on the four in the group’s last stronghold of Rafah since May.

Late last month, Hagari told Channel 13 that to truly achieve Israel’s war goal of eliminating Hamas in Gaza, an alternative must be introduced.

Hagari opined that Hamas is an “idea” rooted in the hearts of Gazans, and that as such “anyone who thinks it can be eliminated is wrong.”

What can be done, he said, is to “foster something else. Something that will make the population aware that someone else is distributing food and managing public services. Who will that be? What will it be? That’s for the politicians to decide. But to truly weaken Hamas, this is the way.”

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that the government and army remained committed to destroying Hamas.

Following Netanyahu’s statement, the IDF issued its own clarification, emphasizing that the army is “committed to achieving the goals of the war as defined by the Cabinet” and that it has been working on this “throughout the war, day and night, and will continue to do so.”

Hagari’s comments, the military argued, “referred to the destruction of Hamas as an ideology and an idea, and this was said by him very clearly and explicitly. … any other claim is taking things out of context.”

Hagari was appointed as the IDF’s chief spokesperson in March 2023, after a long military career, including in the office of then-chief of staff Benny Gantz, who currently leads the opposition National Unity Party.

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