Gantz Challenges Netanyahu to Reveal True Post-War Strategy for Hamas and Hezbollah

By Yoni Weiss

Head of the National Unity party Minister Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Ramat Gan, Motzoei Shabbos. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

At a press conference on Motzoei Shabbos, National Unity party leader and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to disclose his true strategy for the war and the aftermath concerning Hamas.

Gantz, along with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the IDF high command, has emphasized that winning the war entails removing Hamas from power. They advocate for a new administration in Gaza composed of U.S.-EU-Arab allies and the Palestinian Authority.

To avoid large-scale battles in areas like Jabalya, Shifa Hospital, and Zeitoun, which should have been cleared, a new Gaza management must be established concurrently with combating any Hamas insurgency. Gallant and the IDF anticipated a three-to-nine-month low-grade insurgency starting from early 2024. However, they and Gantz are frustrated to be engaging with reconstituted Hamas battalions in northern Gaza in May, when only minor cleanup operations were expected.

Debate surrounds Netanyahu’s true strategy since he has publicly opposed involving the Palestinian Authority in Gaza’s management. Sources indicate he was willing to allow PA-affiliated personnel to oversee the Rafah crossing with Egypt, provided they did not identify with the PA, but this was unacceptable to both the PA and Egypt. The West and Israel’s Arab allies have advocated for a reformed PA to ensure legitimacy with Gazans.

Netanyahu’s potential options include allowing Hamas to control Gaza without official acknowledgment, Israel controlling Gaza unofficially, or maintaining a certain level of chaos in Gaza, hoping that eventually the U.S., EU, and Arab allies would manage Gaza without the PA (a highly unlikely scenario).

This situation also ties into the hostage deal with Hamas. As Israel’s Rafah operation progresses, the IDF will soon face only insurgencies rather than official forces in Gaza. Gantz’s June 8 deadline for Netanyahu could coincide with the conclusion of the Rafah operation or a critical juncture with the U.S. regarding the operation’s future. Once there is no large Hamas force left, there will be little reason for the government not to agree to an extended pause in fighting to facilitate the return of hostages.

Gantz is also pressing Netanyahu for a decision on Hezbollah. He has set Sept. 1, the start of the new school year, as the deadline for resolving the issue of returning evacuated northern residents. Gantz, Gallant, and the IDF high command have insisted on a deal with Hezbollah by then or face a larger military operation. However, this threat has lost impact over time. Giving Hezbollah an ultimatum to either risk a significant Israeli operation or agree to a diplomatic deal to demilitarize southern Lebanon will force it to take the threat seriously. This could finally push Hezbollah to agree to Israel’s terms.

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