Netanyahu with Israeli soldiers during a visit to the northern Gaza Strip during the temporary truce (Reuters)

A Western military expert said that Israel has lost control of the war in the Gaza Strip, and that the longer the ceasefire lasts, the more pressure will be on the mini-war government in Tel Aviv to continue the prisoner exchange process with the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

Michael Clark, visiting professor of defence studies at King's College London and distinguished scholar at the Royal United Services Institute, said the temporary ceasefire and release of prisoners would bring relief to people on the Gaza side of the conflict and welcome 50 days after the outbreak of war.

Despite the positive news, Clark said Israel's handling of the prisoner crisis suggested it was at risk of losing its war.

Great numerical superiority

He pointed out in his article in the "Sunday Times" that Israel has amassed 550,20 troops, making it 25 times stronger than the <>,<> fighters attributed to Hamas, considering it a great superiority to fight the war with it. However, Israel lost control of the events.

Clark believes that the prisoner issue gives Hamas the ability to control the course of the conflict and is "adept at exploiting" the opportunity.

The military expert pointed out in his article that the Israeli mini-war government puts the issue of prisoner recovery before its direct military goals, expecting Hamas to "manipulate everyone's feelings, raise meaningless objections, scrutinize the most marginal details, and deliberately delay and jamming to press for maximum political benefit."

Bend to pressure

Hamas leaders can clearly see, like the rest of the world, that Israel's war government is bowing to U.S. pressure.

He added that the US envoy to the region, Brett McGurk, ran a special cell in Washington that coordinated extensively with the Qatari prime minister's office in Doha to frame the package of the "complex" prisoner exchange deal before pushing it out last Friday.

He said that the Israeli government was not the most important party in the completion of that deal, noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried, under increasing internal pressure from the families of Israeli prisoners, to regain some influence by offering to extend the ceasefire for another 5 days, on the condition that 50 other prisoners be released during that period.

Improving his image

Clark predicted that the IDF would take advantage of the pause to reposition its forces in preparation for the next phase, "in an attempt to improve its intelligence image and restockpile weapons in preparation for a new attack."

There is no doubt that Israel will keep its most dangerous Hamas prisoners to trade captured IDF members among the captives, who may be the last to be exchanged.

It may be very difficult for Israel to move on to the next phase of its military operation, as the author believes, claiming that the IDF has achieved most of its goals in the northern half of the Gaza Strip "at a lower-than-expected cost of about 70 troops.

More international outrage

Any resumption of Israel's bombing campaign on Gaza is likely to provoke more international outrage, especially after a brief ceasefire.

The harsh reality for Tel Aviv, Clark asserts, is that its officially declared war is going wrong in many ways, and the IDF has undoubtedly "weakened" Hamas's operational capability but is still far from destroying it.

He concluded that Israel's push of Gazans towards the south of the Strip, while destroying the north of it, is "fundamentally a strategic mistake," adding that Netanyahu is fast approaching the end of an impasse where he will not be able to achieve any of his military objectives.

Source : Sunday Times