". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Israel Remains Steadfast in Goal of Defeating Hamas despite Pushback, Say Experts

April 8, 2024

After six months of near-continuous battle in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on Sunday that they were withdrawing the 98th Division of troops from the Khan Younis area, with an IDF spokesperson saying that the move signals “another stage in the war effort.” As the Biden administration continues to call for an “immediate ceasefire” with 129 hostages still believed to be held by the Hamas terrorist group, experts and lawmakers say that Israel must be allowed to continue the fight in order to ensure the nation’s security.

“The war is not over,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson. “War can only be over when [the hostages] come home and when Hamas is gone.” The IDF went on to tell NBC News that the 98th Division had withdrawn in order to “recuperate and prepare for future operations.” The IDF’s Nahal Brigade still remains in central Gaza in order to “preserve the IDF’s freedom of action and its ability to conduct precise intelligence based operations.”

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “he has decided on a date for Israel to enter Rafah” in southern Gaza, which is considered the last major stronghold of Hamas. In response, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller reiterated the Biden administration’s opposition to an invasion of Rafah, stating that Israel should use alternative methods of achieving its wartime goals.

Israel’s war against Hamas began last October 7, when Hamas terrorists massacred over 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilian men, women, and children. They also kidnapped 253 people, of which 105 have since been released. Israel has officially said that of the 129 hostages that remain in captivity by Hamas (including eight Americans), 34 are likely dead, with as many as 50 possibly deceased.

Disapproval of Israel’s war effort by the Biden administration has increased in recent days, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken appearing to compare Israel’s war effort with the terrorist tactics of Hamas during a press conference when he said, “If we lose that reverence for human life, we risk becoming indistinguishable from those we confront.” In addition, congressional Democrats have called for U.S. weapons aid for Israel to cease.

In response to the mounting criticism, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) declared on Sunday that “Washington must be united in our support for our great ally, Israel, as they fight for their sovereignty and right to exist.” He went on to emphasize that “it’s time to stop lecturing Israel on how it should best defend itself and begin equipping our friend with the resources necessary to eliminate the threat of Hamas, once and for all.”

Experts on the ground in Israel say much of the criticism is grounded in falsehoods. On Friday, Chris Mitchell, Middle East bureau chief for CBN News, joined “Washington Watch” from Jerusalem to give on how Israel is conducting the war effort.

“[A] lot of [Israelis] feel … there’s no comparison between them and the way Hamas has conducted this war,” he noted. “Israel has been doing … what they can to protect civilian lives, even though there tragically have been Palestinians killed in this war. And I would add that the inflated figure of 33,000 Palestinian [deaths] is inflated by Hamas for propaganda purposes. But to compare the way that Israel has conducted this war by trying to alert civilians to get out of harm’s way, by using leaflets, by sending text messages, by making phone calls to get out of a war zone … many military historians say [it is] unprecedented that the IDF actually telegraphs exactly what they’re going to do and actually puts IDF soldiers at risk. And I know I’ve talked to some Israelis here, and they know that their sons or daughters could be in harm’s way because of the way the IDF conducts its mission.”

Mitchell went on to describe how despite media reports of increased divisions within Israel, the nation remains largely united around the goal of defeating Hamas.

“The political climate here, I would say, is pretty steadfast in … rally[ing] around Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he observed. “[A] number of Israelis on the left side of the ledger may not agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but they certainly agree with the war goals that the War Cabinet has. … Benny Gantz, who’s one of the political opposition leaders, he called for a new elections just a couple of days ago. … I would say in the last few days that some of the divisiveness that was before October 7th has emerged a little bit, but I think there are other Israelis that are saying, ‘Listen, we’re in the middle of a war. We can’t afford elections, and we certainly don’t want to be undermined by other countries that want to come in and dictate what happens politically here.’”

Mitchell further underscored how determined the Jewish people are in defeating Hamas.

“I think a lot of Israelis and many Jews around the world think this is a time when Benjamin Netanyahu really has to make a decision for the state of Israel, for the Jewish people, whether or not they’re going to submit to sort of the dictates of the United States or actually have to go it alone. They do feel isolated right now and alone, but I think they also feel resolute in the sense that they believe that there’s no way that they can lose this war. There’s no way they can allow Hamas to remain a viable entity in the Gaza Strip.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.