Israel military spokesman says Hamas can’t be defeated, clashing with Netanyahu

The IDF signaled its agreement, saying it was acting to achieve Israel’s war goals “tirelessly” and “will keep doing so.” Hagari, it said in a statement, “addressed in his interview the elimination of Hamas as an idea and ideology, which was stated explicitly and clearly. Any other claim is taking the quote out of context.”

Hamas welcomed Hagari’s comments as an “admission” of defeat.

Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, said he was not convinced Hagari meant to directly disparage Israel’s military strategy, but said he could see how his comments would be taken that way.

“He was trying to say the truth,” Michael, who is also a member of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, told NBC News in a phone interview Thursday. But he said he believed Netanyahu understood that truth — and that Israel’s goal was ultimately to prevent Hamas from being able to regroup and maintain power in Gaza.

Still, Hagari’s comments reflected a growing push for Netanyahu to present an actionable plan for the day after the war in Gaza.

“If we don’t bring something else to Gaza, then at the end of the day we will get Hamas,” Michael warned.

The absence of a postwar plan for Gaza was at the heart of Gantz’ reasoning for quitting Netanyahu’s war Cabinet and has also driven criticism from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The remarks came as Israeli forces pushed deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, continuing a monthslong assault that local officials say has killed more than 37,000 people.

Netanyahu has faced global criticism over the war’s toll on Palestinian civilians and domestic pressure to agree to a cease-fire deal that would secure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza. In recent weeks he has also faced criticism for his approach to the exchanges taking place across Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

The IDF said Tuesday that plans for a new offensive in the north were approved and the leader of Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, responded Wednesday saying the “enemy must expect us to come for them from land, air and sea.”

The U.S. sent an envoy to the region in a bid to prevent all-out war in Lebanon, but Netanyahu also sparked dismay in Washington after accusing Israel’s chief ally of “withholding weapons and ammunition.”

Since Israel launched its campaign in Gaza following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, in which Israeli officials say some 1,200 people were killed and around 250 others taken hostage, military experts have warned that the goal of eliminating Hamas was folly.

The Biden administration has offered the same evaluation, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning last month that Israel would not be able to fully eliminate Hamas’ presence in Gaza.

Palestinians mourn a relative, killed in the Israeli bombardment of Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza on Wednesday.Saher Alghorra / AP

The United Nations has warned that thousands of children face possible malnutrition in the enclave, even as the IDF announced brief pauses in fighting to allow for the flow of humanitarian aid.

A U.S.-built floating pier installed along Gaza’s coast to help facilitate the delivery of aid was re-anchored to the beach in Gaza on Wednesday, a senior defense official told NBC News.

The official said the U.S. military hopes to have humanitarian aid flowing again soon after it was temporarily taken out of service due to damage and then high seas.

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