Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Hamas kills more Israelis. Enough is enough, the IDF must enter Rafah now

IDF troops operate in the central Gaza corridor, in a handout image published May 5, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Three more Israeli soldiers were killed by Hamas fire on Sunday, not during IDF operations in Gaza, but on Israeli soil. They were hit by rocket fire originating from Rafah, and indeed Hamas immediately took responsibility, saying their Al-Qassam Brigades targeted the Kerem Shalom area with 114 mm short-range “Rajoum” rockets, which were fired from only a couple hundred meters from the Rafah humanitarian crossing, one of the few areas where IDF soldiers still have not entered since the October 27th invasion of Gaza.

Today’s attack is one clear example of why the IDF should have already entered Rafah to terminate the remaining Hamas battalions.

As already written last week, a military campaign that does not disable the operational capabilities of the organization is ineffective and will only increase terrorist motivation, exposing civilians and military personnel to further attacks; I said: “This is exactly what is going to happen”. And this is exactly what happened, unfortunately. Very predictable.

By trying to avoid entering Rafah (at least that’s the impression I, and many others, have), PM Benjamin Netanyahu is heading towards his second fiasco, after the October 7th massacre.

Destroying most of the Hamas military infrastructure, but leaving the leadership and the battalions in the south in full activity is probably the worst, most dangerous thing that the Netanyahu government can do, because Hamas now has nothing to lose. The terrorist organization still has the means to strike and kill Israelis, as proven today, and it also has a  strong motivation.

The current situation is also useful for Hamas from an international propaganda perspective, and especially since Netanyahu has been repeatedly stating for months “We will enter Rafah”, without any practical outcome, and that is another huge mistake that displays weakness.

Nobody believes Netanyahu anymore, not Hamas and not even Antony Blinken who, this past week, replied to NBC, when asked if the chance for a hostage deal could be quashed by Netanyahu’s insistence that Israel will move forward with an offensive in Rafah, by stating “people say things; let’s focus on what they’re doing, what we’re doing.”

What’s being done? Nothing. Mostly, leaving Hamas in Rafah and waiting for things to get worse. The alleged “hostage deal” is leading to nowhere, because it is obvious that Sinwar has no intention of depriving himself of his Israeli human shields. He simply won’t accept a deal that does not include his own safety, something which the Israeli government obviously cannot afford.

The continuous postponing of the Rafah incursion by the Israeli government launches the signal that Israel is afraid to enter Rafah, mostly because of international pressure, and this situation strengthens Sinwar’s position. It is not by chance that on Sunday Hamas targeted Israel and killed three soldiers, three more that have to be added to the 604 (military, police, and reservists) who died since October 7th; 262 during the Gaza operations. What are all these soldiers dying for? How many more soldiers will have to die?

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday reportedly pushed back against criticism from far-right ministers over the pace of Israeli operations in Gaza, telling members of his cabinet that “nobody needs to tell me what to do or how to do it.”

However, it could be helpful if Netanyahu listened a bit more to those ministers and a bit less to what Blinken wants. Hamas must be eradicated, that was the initial plan, at least as claimed by the Israeli leadership and that’s what needs to be done.

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
Related Topics
Related Posts