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IDF spokesman Hagari says ‘Hamas is an idea,’ can’t be destroyed militarily

Statement provokes response by PMO – Destruction of Hamas’ military and governance is war goal

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari, June 16, 2024. (Photo: Screenshot)

IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari was interviewed by Israeli Channel 13 news on Wednesday, during which he appeared to criticize the political echelon’s strategy for the war.

“Hamas is an idea. You can't destroy an idea,” Hagari stated in the interview. “I’m not referring to alternatives, it’s the political echelon which should decide, and the IDF will implement. But the idea that we can destroy Hamas, is throwing sand in the public’s eyes.” 

He then warned about the danger of not having a political alternative for Gaza after the war.

“If we don’t bring in something different to Gaza, at the end of the day, we will receive Hamas,” Hagari said. “The government must find an alternative for it – or it will remain.” 

Hagari’s statement appeared to be a criticism regarding the apparent lack of a plan for Gaza following the cessation of active military operations. This was not the first time Hagari commented on the political aspect of defeating Hamas in Gaza. 

In May, the military spokesman stated: “There is no doubt that a governmental alternative to Hamas will create pressure on Hamas, but that is a question for the political echelon.”

Around the same time, then-War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an ultimatum to present a plan for Gaza following the cessation of military operations by June 8, or he and his party would withdraw from the emergency government. 

While Gantz delayed his withdrawal by a couple of days following the successful rescue of four Israeli hostages from central Gaza, a few days later, he and his party withdrew

Hagari’s comments drew a quick response from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). 

“The Security Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has defined the destruction of Hamas's military and governing capabilities as one of the goals of the war,” the statement read. “The IDF, of course, is committed to this.” 

At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu also commented on disagreements between him and the IDF leadership. 

“In order to achieve the goal of destroying Hamas’s capabilities I’ve had to make decisions that weren’t always accepted by the military leadership,” Netanyahu stated. 

In an attempt to reduce any tensions between the IDF and the political leadership, the IDF responded with a statement in Hebrew.

“The IDF is committed to achieving the goals of the war as defined by the cabinet; it has been working in this way throughout the war day and night and will continue to do so."

“The IDF spokesman, in his comments, referred to the destruction of Hamas as an ideology and an idea, and his words were expressed by him in a clear and explicit manner. Any other claim is taking things out of context.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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