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Skepticism is growing over one of Israel’s key objectives: to eliminate Hamas, the Islamist political and military organization that maintains control over the Gaza Strip. Increasingly, critics such as President Emmanuel Macron of France are questioning whether resolving to destroy such a deeply entrenched organization was ever realistic.

Since Hamas first emerged in 1987, the group has survived repeated attempts to eliminate its leadership. Experts say the organization’s very structure was designed to absorb such contingencies. In addition, Israel’s devastating tactics in the Gaza war threaten to radicalize a generation of new recruits. The Israeli military estimates that it has so far killed about 8,000 Hamas fighters out of a force of between 25,000 and 40,000.

The group’s top echelon is believed to be sheltering, along with most of Hamas’s fighters and its remaining Israeli hostages, in deep tunnels. Although the Israeli army has said that it demolished at least 1,500 shafts, experts consider the underground infrastructure largely intact.

Quotable: Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said that Hamas was quickly replacing its top commanders. “From a professional point of view, I must give credit to their resilience,” he said. “I cannot see any signs of collapse of the military abilities of Hamas nor in their political strength to continue to lead Gaza.”

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Thursday Briefing

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