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US intel: Hamas to threaten Israel ‘for years to come,’ Netanyahu losing grip on power

Annual US threat assessment pessimistic about prospects to defeat Hamas

Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display Qassam home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade on Aug. 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel will not be able to decisively defeat Hamas in the foreseeable future, according to a U.S. intelligence report that was declassified this week.

The annual threat assessment report was compiled in February and was declassified after senior intelligence officials testified in front of the United States Senate on Monday.

Despite focusing on the “most direct, serious threats to the United States,” including sections about China, Iran, and North Korea, among others, about two out of the 40 pages of the report focused on the ongoing war in Gaza.

The U.S intelligence report noted that “Israel probably will face lingering armed resistance from Hamas for years to come, and the military will struggle to neutralize Hamas’ underground infrastructure,” despite the IDF's performance so far. There were no additional details as to how the authors reached their conclusions.

John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point, recently wrote that the IDF has considerable capabilities in detecting and neutralizing these tunnels, but stressed that the challenge is immense due to Hamas' human shield tactics.

The report furthermore estimated that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly losing his grip on power and noted that new elections were to be expected.

“Netanyahu’s viability as a leader as well as his governing coalition of far-right and ultraorthodox parties that pursued hardline policies on Palestinian and security issues may be in jeopardy,” the report noted.

“Distrust of Netanyahu’s ability to rule has deepened and broadened across the public from its already high levels before the war, and we expect large protests demanding his resignation and new elections.”

“A different, more moderate government is a possibility,” the report concluded.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris echoed the sentiment recently when she said that one must “distinguish” between the views of the Netanyahu government and those of the Israeli people.

Amit Segal, one of Israel’s most influential journalists, vehemently contradicted this idea in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion column, which argued that most Israelis strongly support Israel's current war policy.

“She doesn’t realize that the people are far more hawkish than their government,” Segal told Wall Street Journal's Elliot Kaufman.

The report also noted that the war in Gaza has increased tensions throughout the Middle East, as Iran and its proxies attack Israel and the United States to exert pressure.

U.S. intelligence estimated that Israel would continue to face “mounting international pressure because of the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.”

“The risk of escalation into direct interstate conflict, intended or otherwise, remains high,” according to the report.

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

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