Nearly a month has passed since the terrorist massacres perpetrated by Hamas fighters after a surprise attack by Israel on October 7. Excluding any ceasefire, the Israeli army is carrying out a large-scale ground operation against the Islamist group, while the number of civilian victims of this new war is soaring.
How far will Israel go, despite the presence of more than 200 hostages in the hands of Hamas in the Gaza Strip? “The fighting will be difficult,” recognizes former general Yaakov Amidror, who was Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security advisor from 2011 to 2013. But “we will not hesitate to do what is necessary, whatever the losses.” “, explains this researcher associated with the Jerusalem Institute for Security and Strategy, a conservative think tank.
L’Express: Why was an intervention by the Israeli army in Gaza inevitable?
Yaakov Amidror: After the barbaric attack by Hamas on October 7, such an organization must no longer exist on the other side of the Israeli border. Americans and French are fighting Islamist terrorists around the world, from Africa to Syria and Iraq. We have the equivalent of Al-Qaeda and Daesh ten kilometers, or even less, from the places where they have massacred families, elderly people, babies, raped women, cut off the heads of children. We must respond the same way the world responded to Al-Qaeda and Daesh, kill them all and eliminate this organization. They must no longer have the capacity to launch an attack on Israel. The leaders of this organization will be eliminated in Gaza or elsewhere in the world. This will be the end of Hamas’ history.
What approach did the Israeli army take for its operation in Gaza, a massive invasion or more targeted attacks?
Both. We are entering Gaza with massive forces. This will be a slow-moving operation, using our superior firepower, to ultimately reach Hamas bases, command centers and tunnels, destroy them and kill all Hamas fighters. There is significant fog over the operations being carried out and I hope that it will continue, because the less the enemy knows, the better it is for our forces. This is the #1 rule of war.
Do you think that the Israeli army is well prepared for these urban battles, considered to be the most difficult?
I hope so, but we won’t really know until the war is over. Commanders on the ground know these are tough fights. They prepared for three weeks. I think the Israeli army has learned lessons from the 2014 Gaza operations, as it has also learned from the American experience in Iraq.
This operation will have a cost for the Israeli forces. What do you think it will be?
I don’t know. But after the barbaric attack by Hamas, we will not hesitate to do what is necessary, whatever the losses.
There are tensions between the security services and the government regarding the current crisis…
It is obvious that there were mistakes [qui ont conduit au 7 octobre], but they will be the subject of the necessary investigations after the war. For the moment, no one has all the details and we must be wary of fake news which are published in favor or against the government.
How does the question of hostages come into play in the military operation carried out in Gaza?
This is a huge challenge and the Israeli armed forces will have to make every effort to save the hostages. But we will not stop the operation because Hamas is playing with the hostages. However, if the commanders have information on the hostages, this will be priority number one for them. All Israelis hope the hostages will be safe, but they know it won’t be easy.
Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinians in the West Bank in recent days. Does this not risk causing a conflagration and the opening of new fronts which would complicate the task of the Israeli army?
We greatly exaggerate what the settlers are doing, but at the same time, I think that this minority, barely a few people, must stop immediately. Faced with the risk of a multiple front, Israel recalled several hundred thousand reservists. The north of the country is crisscrossed with forces to prevent any attack by Lebanese Hezbollah.
How is Israel at a historic turning point in its approach to the Palestinian question?
She is determined to destroy a terrorist organization that should no longer exist. There is no question yet of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. It is a question of a war which must no longer allow groups like Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Hamas and others to exist. Most Israeli politicians agree on the need to destroy Hamas.
According to the American media, Washington would find that the Israeli authorities would not sufficiently prepare the political sequence which should follow the military operations…
This is a question we will have to face, but today we cannot discuss it because we are focused on the war. Only after the war will we have a proper understanding of the situation to decide what should and can be done. That we will be open to discussion. If there is pressure from the Americans for more humanitarian aid to Gaza, we respond to it to bring more water and food. But Israel is free to act militarily.