Observers believe that the Netanyahu government does not have any political horizon for the future of Gaza after the war (French)

JERUSALEM – The options before the Israeli political leadership after the end of the temporary truce seemed hostage to the head of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, who expressed his willingness to extend the ceasefire.

This comes at a time when the IDF leadership insists on resuming the war on the Gaza Strip and expanding the ground incursion into the south, to dismantle Hamas' military capacity and free the detainees.

These options also come amid internal challenges facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in light of the escalating pressure of the families of detainees to continue the prisoner exchange process that is achieved by a ceasefire, in addition to the growing calls in Europe and America for this truce to be a starting point for stopping the war and moving towards a political initiative.

Netanyahu during his inspection tour of soldiers in Gaza without being accompanied by the Chief of Staff or members of the War Cabinet (Anatolia)

Mass trauma

Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy are aware that the prevailing awareness among the Israeli public about the continuation of the war on Gaza is the result of the collective trauma caused by the battle of the "Al-Aqsa Flood" launched by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, on the settlements of the "Gaza envelope" and Israeli towns in the south on the seventh of last October.

An assessment issued by the Israeli Institute for National Security Research at Tel Aviv University suggests that the state of war with Gaza may continue for a long time, perhaps for many months, with varying degrees of intensity, depending on the circumstances, and may cause serious breakdowns and ups and downs in achievements and damage.

The battle for the "Al-Aqsa Flood" created a sense of existential threat and thus formed a broad consensus that Israel was fighting a war imposed on it, and this is the basis of very broad popular support for the war aims and for the IDF.

But if the long war expands to additional fronts or becomes complex, according to the Israel Research Institute, it will pose a major challenge to Israeli society's resilience, potentially undermining mass rally and potentially eroding popular support for the war effort.

This will also have implications for the national mood of Israelis, according to researchers at the Institute for National Security Research Meir Allan and Ariel Hayman, which will be affected by the scale of casualties among soldiers and the return of the largest number of Israeli detainees.

The researchers stressed that the echoes of the collective trauma that occurred on the seventh of last October will be secondary the longer the war lasts, and military achievements on the ground will be the criterion for maintaining popular support for the continuation of the war on Gaza, and vice versa in the case of losses and failure to achieve its goals.

Trap and pressures

Yossi Yehoshua, a correspondent for military and security affairs at Yedioth Ahronoth, believes that Hamas' evasion with Israel during the truce and the stages of the exchange deal reflects the trap set by Sinwar for the army that is infiltrating the Gaza Strip, amid pressure from the Israeli street to free all detainees.

He explained that the choice of the political echelon and the army in Israel to accept a truce and a temporary ceasefire in exchange for the return of a limited number of abductees does not improve Israel's deterrence, as it comes precisely after the IDF has recovered from the blow it suffered during the "Al-Aqsa flood."

It is believed that the military leadership's insistence on resuming and expanding the war on the Strip reflects the growing understanding in the General Staff that the ground incursion should have been directed deep into Rafah and tightening the siege on Hamas there, releasing all detainees in one deal, and threatening to turn Gaza into a large refugee camp.

Eyal Zisser, a researcher in security affairs and the Middle East at Tel Aviv University, said the options for the political level are to accept the military-level plan and to continue fighting and ground battles to the south, "if Israel wants to achieve any achievement that leads to undermining Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip militarily and politically."

Zeiser explained in an article in the newspaper "Israel Today" that Halevy and government spokesmen stated and promised that the Israeli army will also continue fighting and ground battles in southern Gaza when the truce ends, and that when that happens Hamas will be eliminated to act as an organized military force, and its regimes that control the Strip will collapse.

But with international pressure to extend the truce and complete new phases of the swap deal, Zieser says fears are growing that the decision to continue ground battles could be suspended and a resolution possible.

Some see the war on Gaza as a "war of independence and existence" to determine Israel's fate and future in the Middle East for the next 75 years.


It is precisely for this reason, the researcher in security affairs and the Middle East says, "It is forbidden for the Israeli army to cease fire and withdraw from Gaza before decisiveness and achieving the goals of the war, as only decisiveness in Gaza will guarantee security for Israel and return it to the king's path that it was on the evening of the seventh of October."

As for the options before the Israeli political leadership, Seret Evtan Cohen, a political affairs analyst at Israel Today, said that the one-day delay in repatriating the detainees from the second batch showed that "a strong, sovereign and independent Israel is held hostage in the hands of Yahya Sinwar."

"Despite the severe blows Hamas has received on the battlefield, it has managed to reach a deal according to its parameters, and Israel and its political leadership are forced to agree to every additional demand so as not to miss the opportunity for the safe return of children and women, and the determination of the course of the war depends on Hamas remaining detained and Sinwar's decision," Cohen said.

In the face of the complexities of scenarios and options for extending the truce or resuming the rounds of fighting and the challenges of the detainees' file, Cohen said that "Israel is facing international pressure calling for an end to the war."

The political analyst explained that the Israeli army formed a "legitimacy cell" - based in the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv - and its mission is to monitor the rate of international legitimacy of Israel in the war on Gaza.

With the start of the temporary truce and the completion of the exchange deal, this legitimacy gradually loses interest in the file of Israeli detainees, and its interest in the mass destruction of the Gaza Strip increases, amid loud voices calling for an end to the war in light of the great sympathy for the Palestinians.

With the Netanyahu government without any political horizon regarding Gaza's post-war future and "who will fill the vacuum in the wake of Hamas," the international community — including Israel's friends in Europe and America — wants to resume negotiations on a two-state solution. In doing so, Cohen says, "the victory of Hamas, which will not disintegrate and will not disappear after the war is over," says Cohen.

Source : Al Jazeera