07:00 GMT17 June 2021
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    During the eleven days of fighting, the Jewish state eliminated 25 commanders and engineers of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It has also destroyed the groups' offensive tunnels and dealt a devastating blow to its so-called metro, an underground tunnel network used for smuggling fighters and weapons.

    With Israel's Operation Guardian of the Walls finally over, the Jewish state's media is counting achievements and losses.

    During the eleven days of the operation that erupted when Hamas, the Islamic group that controls the Gaza Strip, launched rockets into the country's southern communities, 12 Israelis have lost their lives. Hundreds have been treated in hospitals across the country. Dozens of residential buildings have been partially or fully damaged.

    Rocket Protector

    But in Israel, the operation has largely been hailed as a success. Amos Gilad, a former senior defence official, who has filled key positions in Israel's military apparatus, including heading a military intelligence research division, says that most of the missions set by the government have been achieved. 

    To start off, Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system proved its efficiency. Throughout the hostilities, Gaza militants launched more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli territory. 3,000 of them penetrated the Jewish state and half of those could have hit residential areas if they hadn't been intercepted by the advanced batteries

    "90 percent of Gaza rockets were stopped by the Iron Dome. Major damage has been averted. It is a big achievement."

    However, it was not the only one.  

    "Hamas has been relying on their system of tunnels, especially the offensive ones. None of them are left. They also tried to build an underground military city but major parts of it have been destroyed, too," said Gilad.

    According to estimates, Israeli airstrikes devastated more than a hundred kilometres of Hamas' underground tunnel system, that had allegedly been used by the group to smuggle weapons and militants. 

    Israel asserts that its bombardment of Gaza killed some 200 operatives, including 25 commanders and officers of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Meanwhile, the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza (which does not differentiate between civilians and members of the group) says at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including 66 minors, with 1,910 people wounded.

    In addition, the Jewish state also attacked dozens of government offices belonging to Hamas, it struck banks that handle the group's money flow, numerous bases, rocket launching facilities and various training camps.

    "I think the biggest achievement of Israel so far was the fact that we restored our deterrence. Besides the casualties that we inflicted, Hamas has also lost their feeling of security. Now they know they are no longer immune."

    Can Hamas be Deterred?

    However, deterrence might not last for a long period of time. Since Hamas took control over the Strip in 2007, it has had four major confrontations with Israel, including the most recent round of hostilities. Israeli experts warn that another wave is just a matter of time, but Gilad is certain that the Islamic group will not be able to restore its might that easily.

    "Their offensive tunnels have been destroyed. Their top engineers have been eliminated. I can't say it will be impossible to restore what they had lost. But it will not be that easy."

    The primary reason for this, believes the expert, is Hamas' isolation and a relative lack of partners that can offer them much-needed assistance. 

    As an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement banned in many states, Hamas is often seen as a threat and as an element that should be blocked.

    Such is the case with Egypt, that throughout the years has destroyed many of the Hamas tunnels that linked the Strip to the Sinai peninsula and that were used for the smuggling of weapons and militants.

    And such has been the case with the United Arab Emirates, that has trimmed its assistance to the United Nations refugee agency following the historic normalisation agreement with Israel in October 2020.

    "Apart from Turkey and Qatar I don't see any other state that will be offering Hamas any assistance."

    In recent years, the two states have done just that. From 2012 till 2018 Qatar has pledged Hamas $1.1 billion, whereas Turkey has repeatedly offered the Islamic group diplomatic assistance.

    If their policy to back Hamas continues, the chances that the group will rebuild itself are high and that means that another round of hostilities is just around the corner.

    That prospect has already stirred much criticism in Israel, where the public has vented anger at the Israeli government for not making the decision to finish Hamas.

    But Gilad says that the elimination of Hamas is not a decision that should be taken lightly, simply because it is not clear who "will replace them", if their regime is toppled.

    "Israel can get rid of Hamas if it takes such a decision but this is not the policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He wants them weak and isolated. And this is the policy that the IDF is implementing."
    Tags:
    Hamas, Gaza Strip, Israel
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