Israel war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot admits Hamas defeat 'unrealistic'

Israel war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot admits Hamas defeat 'unrealistic'
Israeli minister Gadi Eisenkot has said Israel's stated war aims of defeat Hamas are unrealistic as the Gaza war continues.
2 min read
19 January, 2024
Eisenkot is a former Israeli army chief [Getty]

Israel war cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot has slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aim of the complete defeat of Hamas as unrealistic, hinting that the Israeli public is being lied to over the progress of the war.

Eisenkot, a former army chief, responded Netanyahu's promise of "complete victory" over Hamas in its three-month war on Gaza, which has killed close to 25,000 people, the vast majority women and children.

"Whoever speaks of absolute defeat is not speaking the truth," he told Israel's Channel 12.

When asked whether Israel's government was telling the truth on the Gaza war, he responded "no".

"The goals of the war have not yet been achieved, but the [number of soldiers on the ground] is now more limited… You have to think about what’s next," he said.

Israel began a devastating siege and assault on Gaza on 7 October, following Hamas's raids in southern Israel which killed around 1,100 Israelis and saw hundreds taken hostage following months of Israeli assaults in the West Bank.

Around 132 people are still believed to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

There have been divisions in the Israeli war cabinet over the strategy of the campaign, particularly over Netanyahu's exclusion of senior ministers on the issue of post-war planning, according to Israeli media. 

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Many ministers, including Eisenkot, want Netanyahu to focus on freeing the hostages rather than defeating Hamas, a scenario unlikely unless Israel makes significant concessions.

Eisenkot has warned the government that time is running out to bring the hostages home safely.

The US has also been increasingly critical about a lack of a plan by Netanyahu about the running of Gaza when the war concludes including his recent rebuttal of the two-state solution.

Eisenkot also said he argued against pre-emptive strikes against Hezbollah early on in the Gaza war, which he said would be a "strategic mistake".

A meeting on a possible attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon - an idea promoted by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant - descended into a shouting match between war cabinet members, leaving Eisenkot hoarse as he argued against military action.

Hezbollah is considered a much more formidable foe than Hamas, and war with the Lebanese group would likely see missiles rain down on northern Israel.

Israel and Hezbollah have engaged in clashes on the Lebanon border, but mostly within unofficial rules of engagement.