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Shocker. WSJ admits Gaza war isn't working!

Israel has managed to destroy the lives of just about all 2 million folks living in Gaza. That is except the bad guys. Hamas is still fighting with most of their troops, more energized than ever. Plus jihadists will be adding members to the ranks as the roughly 1 million children who live in Gaza grow up and understandably may want to get even. I sure as hell would. Would I be fighting Hamas or Israel? Take a wild guess.

IDF Faces a Harsh Reality in Southern Gaza

Fighting is fiercer in Khan Younis, and it won’t be easy to kill Hamas leaders and rescue hostages.

By Yonah Jeremy Bob, WSJ

Dec. 29, 2023

What is happening in southern Gaza—and as important, what isn’t happening—threatens to leave the Middle East violently unstable for years. The battle for Khan Younis is forcing Israel to face a harsh reality: Hamas likely won’t be totally annihilated. And Israel’s two goals, killing Hamas’s leaders and rescuing all the hostages, are coming into contradiction.

Since Israel has mostly taken over northern Gaza, Khan Younis is essentially the last fortress of Hamas’s leadership. The terrorists who have controlled Gaza for the past 16 years are fighting there more ferociously than anywhere else. Visiting Khan Younis on Dec. 21, I saw how intense the battle is even after three weeks and despite the Israeli military’s efforts to wrap up the fighting.Despite past successes such as the daring and ingenious operations to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for more than 20 years, Israel has often ignored Hamas since it took over Gaza. Even the differing results so far in northern and southern Gaza have raised questions about whether Israel has the will and endurance to sustain the battle.

On Nov. 22, I visited northern Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital and Hamas’s underground tunnels there. After 16 years of treating that hospital as untouchable, Israel now was showing the region that after the Oct. 7 massacres, nothing would stop it from rooting out Gaza’s rulers even in the most sensitive civilian locations.

In southern Gaza a month later, I saw what initially appeared to be similar resolve, with a crater where Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar’s house had been. But events in the days immediately before and after my visit revealed inconsistencies.

Few signs of Hamas’s resistance to Israel were visible during my Al-Shifa visit, but in Khan Younis I heard more explosions and constant gunfire. Most of the journey to Al-Shifa in the north was in open jeeps, while travel to Khan Younis was entirely in closed armored personnel carriers. The instructions that the commanders gave the drivers before we left the military base made clear they were far more concerned about being attacked than they had been in northern Gaza.

Classified briefings by Brig. Gen. Dan Goldfus, who commands the invasion of Khan Younis, revealed that full control could take months, lasting beyond the deadline Israel has set for large-scale military operations. He declined to guess how soon he could find Hamas’s leaders and the approximately 130 remaining Israeli hostages.

Nearly the same period, three weeks, had passed since the beginning of operations in each area of Gaza I visited, but the pace of military success was much different.

The Israel Defense Forces has been confronted by four different kinds of geography in Khan Younis, instead of the relatively homogeneous battle terrain in northern Gaza. Hamas has learned from northern Gaza that large battles with the IDF will fail. Nonstop guerrilla warfare—hit-and-run tactics using antitank missiles and ambushes—succeeds more often. Most important, Hamas’s top leaders have few places to run from southern Gaza, and Israeli intelligence believes the remaining Israeli hostages are being held there. All this makes Hamas’s fighting fiercer, while the IDF sometimes pulls its punches to avoid accidentally killing more hostages.

Israel has hinted that it may consider granting Hamas’s leaders passage to Qatar in a deal to release the hostages. If Hamas doesn’t accept this deal, the outcome could be significant losses of hostages or an extended campaign lasting several months. Either result could destabilize Israel’s government and any attempts by Israel and the West to establish new rulers in Gaza.

The uncertainty extends throughout the Middle East. Northern Gaza taught Iran and Hezbollah that Israel won’t tolerate another Oct. 7 and that any aggression toward Israel will receive a deadly response from Jerusalem. But southern Gaza seems to be showing them that even the anger of Oct. 7 will gradually fade under the daily toll of dying Israeli soldiers, now more than 150 during the invasion.

Waiting out Israel’s anger may take years, but Iran and Hezbollah are patient long-term planners. By the late 2020s they may be able to resume aggressive moves at a time when Israel’s unwillingness to focus on long conflicts could expose it to further vulnerabilities.

How will this threat affect Israel and the West’s plans to rebuild a more stable Gaza and possibly restore a diplomatic process? Or plans to restore stability to Israel’s northern border? How will it influence Iran’s plans to try to incrementally take over more of the region and eventually obtain nuclear weapons?

If Gaza City seemed to answer these questions, Khan Younis has left them—and the fate of the region—wide open.

Mr. Bob is senior military analyst for the Jerusalem Post and co-author of “Target Tehran: How Israel Is Using Sabotage, Cyberwarfare, Assassination—and Secret Diplomacy—to Stop a Nuclear Iran and Create a New Middle East.”

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