Hamas still able to 'fight Israel for months' in Gaza, US intel report says
Hamas has sufficient munitions and manpower to counter Israeli military operations in Gaza for several months, according to US officials.
As well as maintaining its capacity to strike Israel with rockets and fight Israeli forces in Gaza, Hamas has even been able to reconstitute its police force in parts of Gaza City, unnamed officials told the Wall Street Journal, citing classified intelligence reports.
The officials added that Tel Aviv has only managed to kill between 20-30 percent of Hamas fighters in Gaza since 7 October, despite waging an intensive air and ground campaign on the Palestinian enclave.
Hamas, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007, has seemingly adjusted its tactics in the face of Israel’s multi-frontal attack. The group reportedly operates in smaller units, employing guerrilla tactics to ambush Israeli troops, while individual fighters are taking on more tasks to account for losses among their ranks, military analysts said.
By the standards of US military doctrine, the loss of 20-30% of a fighting force would usually render such a force as “combat ineffective”. However, the US military analysts say that this doesn’t apply to Hamas, as it is a non-conventional “irregular” group that is fighting a defensive war in a dense urban environment.
The threshold for rendering it ineffective is thus much higher than that of a conventional force.
This has led the Biden administration to scale down its expectations for Israel’s war, aiming for a degradation in its capabilities rather than its complete destruction. The US has also allegedly urged Israel to shift the war toward more targeted operations aimed at Hamas’s leadership.
Though Hamas has suffered thousands of casualties, according to US and Israeli assessments, it aims simply to survive this conflict, current and former Israeli military officials said.
“You don’t have to win, you just have to not lose,” a senior Israeli military official cited by the WSJ said of Hamas’s goal.
The extent of Hamas's combat losses is not yet known, with Israel claiming without verification to have killed 9,000 fighters since the beginning of its war, with 16,000 injured. The US estimates that between 10,500 and 11,700 Hamas fighters have been injured, with a much lower death toll.
Israel’s war on Gaza has killed over 25,000 Palestinians, most of whom are civilians, with 85% of Gaza’s population being displaced and much of the Palestinian territory being levelled.