“The New York Times” from American officials: The tunnels will allow Hamas to survive and reshape itself once the war stops

Gaza – The New York Times, citing American officials, reported on Monday that the tunnels will allow Hamas to survive and reconstitute itself once the war in the Gaza Strip stops.

The officials added that despite the heavy losses suffered by the faction movement, a large portion of its senior leadership in Gaza is still in place, hidden in a vast network of tunnels and underground operations centers, stressing that they are the decision makers in the hostage deal negotiations.

The tunnel system extends for hundreds of miles at points up to 15 stories underground, according to Israeli and American officials.

Israel was unable to destroy the tunnels that the faction movement spent years building, but Israeli officials say they have taken control of most of the key points – the strategic underground complexes that Hamas used to command its forces.

An Israeli military intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in compliance with army protocols, said that about 70% of the compounds had been destroyed.

The American newspaper explains that although the Israeli military operations in Gaza led to the weakening of the faction movement, the killing of thousands of its members, and the liquidation of at least one senior military commander, Tel Aviv did not achieve its primary goals of the war: “liberating the hostages and completely destroying the faction movement.”

The New York Times says that the war has cost Israel dearly, as its army killed large numbers of Palestinian civilians in addition to widespread hunger in Gaza, and the killing of aid workers sparked widespread anger and condemnation around the world.

In addition, the New York Times reported that according to the annual intelligence assessment issued in March, American intelligence agencies doubted Israel’s ability to actually destroy the faction movement.

The report said: “It is likely that Israel will face continued armed resistance from the factional movement for years to come… and the army will struggle to neutralize the underground infrastructure of the factional movement, which allows the movement’s elements to hide, regain their strength, and surprise the Israeli forces.”

In addition, the American newspaper indicated that Tel Aviv and the faction movement are preparing for a larger operation in the southern city of Rafah, the last stronghold of the faction movement that was not reached by Israeli forces, stressing in the context that there is a state of uncertainty about what may come after Rafah, with questions about who will rule Gaza. He is responsible for providing security in the Strip after the war.

The Israeli army believes that four battalions of faction movement fighters are stationed in the city and that thousands of other fighters have taken refuge there, along with more than a million civilians.

Tel Aviv says those brigades must be dismantled, with Israeli officials stating that the only way to destroy them is through a major ground forces incursion into Rafah.

In this context, Israeli security experts confirm that destroying the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, which supply the factional movement with weapons, according to their claim, will also be a decisive goal.

But the planned military operation has become a point of contention between the United States and Israel, with American officials stating that Israel has not developed a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah and without it, the death toll in Gaza will rise further.

American military officials say that Israel should model its plan on the siege of Mosul, Iraq, in 2017 by Iraqi forces and the US Air Force, where one million residents were evacuated from the city before the attack, noting that at least 3,000 civilians were killed as a result of the military operation.

According to the newspaper, American military planners want Israel to carry out focused raids on the factions’ movement strengths, but only after the civilians are transferred.

Israeli officials said they expected civilians to move to safer areas, but American officials said that since most of the Strip is almost uninhabitable, Israel needs a better plan.

American officials stress in their statements that the only way to get Israel to stop the Rafah operation is to conclude a deal to release the hostages. However, in return, the Israelis confirm that the imminent operation in Rafah is the only thing that kept the factions moving in the negotiations, with anger increasing among the families of the hostages due to the failure of the hill. Aviv liberated them.

While detailing and delving into many points regarding the war that has been going on for 6 months, the newspaper asked a fundamental question, saying, “After six months of conflict, what has Israel achieved, and when and how can the fighting end?”, noting that the answer to the question creates increasingly intense global tensions. About a war that cost Israel support even from its closest allies.

Source: “New York Times”

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2024-04-23 19:50:35

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