Commentary | Israel Fails to Achieve War Goals in Gaza – These are Steps for Rectification

There is increasing pressure on Israel to achieve a swift ceasefire even though, from its perspective, the war goals have not yet been achieved. Guest author Yaron Hanan explains

After significant progress in more than months of fighting the Swords of Iron War, during which the IDF eliminated a large portion of the military strength of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the IDF has still not taken over the entire Gaza Strip. The IDF has yet to dismantle the entire military apparatus of Hamas. The most severe issue: many of the hostages have not been released despite their deteriorating physical and mental condition day by day, endangering their survival.

The documentation from the Gaza Strip, distributed widely in the Western world and moderate Arab countries, presents a very harsh picture of the humanitarian crisis that has arisen following the war in the Strip. The world is finding it difficult to come to terms with that crisis. Therefore, we are also losing support among those who justified the Israeli attack following the October 7 massacre. The result is increasing pressure on Israel to reach a swift ceasefire, even though from the Israeli perspective, the war objectives have not yet been achieved.

The Israeli leadership is struggling to persuade the world's nations – and a significant part of the Israeli public – that it knows where it is heading and is unable to provide a satisfactory response to the demands of the United States and friendly countries regarding the continuation of the fighting and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

What does Israel want and must achieve, at the same level of importance?

- The swift release of all the hostages (including bodies) held by Hamas.

- Replacing the Hamas regime with a viable one, that will manage civilian governance in the Gaza Strip, will rehabilitate the region, and will not jeopardize Israel's security.

-Assuring the residents of Israel peace and security, especially those living in the Gaza periphery, and preventing military escalation and terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip against Israel.

- Obtaining international legitimacy for the aforementioned Israeli goals and assisting in their realization, while creating conditions for expanding agreements and relations with moderate Arab states and the Palestinian leadership.

Achieving these government objectives is contingent upon two essential conditions: firstly, obtaining public confidence based on a broad consensus within the government leadership, and secondly, restoring confidence in the government by the majority of leaders in the Western-supporting tradition of the State of Israel.

Unfortunately, it appears that neither of these conditions is met, and it seems that the prime minister and his ministers "earned" this failure by their own doing – mainly due to the lack of a clear decision about where the government is heading, and due to ignoring the interests of friendly countries to Israel regarding the humanitarian situation in the strip.

Thus, we lose twice: once through the undermining of the cohesion and internal mobilization of Israeli society, which is a central component of our resilience, and secondly through the loss of international support, without which we cannot achieve the goals of the war.

What could a different leadership do to resolve this crisis and still achieve the war goals?

A broad government should be established, with new leadership, based on the support and trust of the majority of the public in Israel. This new government will work to regain the trust and support we lost from countries that did support Israel's right to respond militarily to the October 7 massacre and stood by our right to restore security for our residents.

To this end, Israel will significantly expand humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Gaza and assist in organizing the distribution of aid to Palestinian refugees whose homes have been destroyed or who are unable to return to them, as long as the fighting continues.

The government will officially declare the objectives of the war on which there is wide consensus: first and foremost, the return of the captives, with readiness to reach a ceasefire in exchange for their return and for the removal of Hamas leadership that led the attack in October, alongside readiness to release a significant number of security prisoners while negotiating the number and identity of those to be released.

The government will extend the ceasefire and even end the hostilities through the mobilization of the international community and moderate Arab and Palestinian elements, who will accept full civilian control over the population in the Gaza Strip. Israel will also require public assurances regarding the continuation of calm and consent to granting security freedom of action to the IDF to prevent the escalation of terrorist military activity and security threats against Israel. These agreements will also be anchored in decisions by the UN Security Council and the US Congress.

Once a ceasefire is achieved, the government will work to diplomatically and/or militarily ensure the removal of security threats posed by Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iranian militias operating from Lebanon and Syria. Additionally, it will coordinate with the United States on continuing the multinational force's activities protecting freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and countering Houthi attacks in Yemen against Israel and against maritime vessels en route to the Suez and Eilat waterways.

The government will work towards achieving a political horizon that will enable the expansion of the Abraham Accords, primarily with Saudi Arabia, as part of an American-Western and Arab axis against Iran and its proxies in the region. The agreements will also include a change of governance in the Palestinian Authority and strengthening the security control of the  PA in the West Bank, with the IDF’s assistance.

The more the PA gains succeeds in preventing terrorism, Israel will progress in solidifying diplomatic arrangements with American and global approval. Simultaneously, Israel will commit to certain conditions to limit construction in settlements beyond the Green Line and will act to prevent violence by Jewish citizens towards Palestinians, in an attempt to reach a long-term agreement in stages.

The government will significantly expand the military force against the Gaza Strip and Israel’s northern border while providing defense to communities, preventing missile attacks, and maintaining the ability to respond or initiate targeted military action against any violation or terrorist threat developing in the Gaza Strip.

If progress is achieved in most of the aforementioned actions, it will be possible to rehabilitate the settlements affected in the south and north, to provide real security to evacuated residents, as well as in more distant cities that have previously suffered terror attacks.

By Lieutenant Colonel (res.). Yaron Hanan is an expert in risk and emergency management.

Rare-earth elements between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China
The Eastern seas after Afghanistan: the UK and Australia come to the rescue of the United States in a clumsy way
The failure of the great games in Afghanistan from the 19th century to the present day
Russia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. The intelligence services organize and investigate