Fully destroying Hamas in Gaza will be difficult. The IDF will kill thousands of terrorists but many others will hide instead of fighting. Some Hamas operatives and weapons will likely survive the war.
However, Israel’s strategic mission is to terminate the Gaza terror threat, even if Hamas is not wiped out entirely. The IDF will aim to achieve this in four steps.
Step 1: Demolishing Hamas — The IDF has started to aggressively dismantle the massive Hamas terror base in Gaza. Israeli forces will eliminate numerous Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, destroy many weapons stockpiles, and demolish much of the terror tunnel network. This will severely degrade Gaza’s military power.
Step 2: Gaza buffer zone — Israel plans to establish a security zone inside Gaza to prevent terrorists from freely accessing the border fence, gathering intelligence or planting bombs along the frontier. This buffer zone will serve as an extra barrier, making it much harder for terror operatives to plan or execute October 7-style assaults.
Step 3: Stronger defense lines — Israel will bolster its forces and military hardware in the areas surrounding Gaza. The new deployment will include more soldiers, tanks and attack helicopters on standby. In addition, the IDF will adjust its intelligence doctrine, giving more weight to enemy capabilities instead of relying on early warnings.
Step 4: Sustained operations, targeted strikes — The IDF will monitor and proactively disrupt the activities of any terror organization in Gaza. Terrorists will no longer be able to openly train or hold war drills. Israel will target newly built terror sites or militias with pinpoint strikes or renewed ground operations.
If Israel consistently applies all of these steps, it will largely neutralize the potential for wide-scale terror from Gaza. The military strength of terror factions and their ability to regroup and plan future attacks will be strictly limited.
Israel’s military doctrine in Gaza will be supplemented by actions on other fronts. This will likely include assassinations of Hamas leaders abroad, and collaboration with other parties to alter the reality in Gaza.
Yet even if diplomatic efforts fail, the IDF will aim to ensure that a large Gaza terror base never emerges again. For now, Israel will continue to maximize the damage to Hamas, before implementing the next steps in the program.