The conflict between the Palestinian armed group Hamas and Israel is unlikely to end anytime soon, Benny Gantz, a member of the country’s emergency war cabinet and a former defense minister, said on Wednesday. He also warned that large-scale hostilities could spill over beyond Gaza.
Speaking at the funeral of Ofir Libstein, a regional council head who was allegedly killed by Hamas militants, Gantz predicted that the fighting “will take a long time.”
“The war in the south – and if need be also in the north or anywhere else – might take months, and the rebuilding will take years. Only when [the rebuilding] is complete will we be victorious,” he stated, as quoted by the Times of Israel.
In referring to a potential northern front, Gantz, who is now a minister without a portfolio in Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, was referring to the turbulent situation on Israel’s border with Lebanon, which is home to the militant group Hezbollah. In addition, Israel occupies a part of the Golan Heights, which is claimed by Syria.
According to the minister, Israel’s goal “is not just to defeat Hamas, but to promise that the south will be 100% paradise.”
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“After we win, on any front that we fight, we will be dedicated to this rebuilding,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking to Israel’s Channel 12, Gadi Shamni, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, suggested that the US, his country’s key ally, “is expecting us to destroy Hamas.” He believes that Israel’s military is up to the task, and is capable of finishing the mission within six to eight months.
However, commenting on the potential timeline of the conflict, ex-CIA chief David Petraeus warned that Israel’s ground campaign in Gaza could prove to be “Mogadishu on steroids,” referring to a bloody 1993 battle involving US forces in the Somali capital.
“You’ll see suicide bombers, you’ll see improvised explosive devices, there will be ambushes, booby traps, and the urban setting, again, could not be more challenging,” he told Politico.
The violent conflict between Hamas and Israel erupted on October 7 when the militant group launched a surprise missile and ground attack on the country, with hostilities resulting in thousands of dead and injured. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is at war, vowing retaliation. So far, the conflict has claimed the lives of more than 3,700 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis, according to official data.