Day 107 in the war against Hamas sees limited progress in dismantling Hamas raising doubts within the IDF’s high command about the near-term feasibility of achieving the country’s principal wartime objectives: eradicating Hamas and also liberating the Israeli hostages still in Gaza. The dual objectives of freeing the hostages and destroying Hamas now are seen to be mutually incompatible according some senior military leaders. There is also a clash between how long Israel would need to fully eradicate Hamas (a time-consuming slog fought in the group’s warren of underground tunnels) and the pressure, applied by Israel’s allies, to wrap up the war quickly amid a spiraling civilian death toll.
Israel has eliminated 20% to 30% of Hamas’ fighters in Gaza, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing estimates from US intelligence agencies. This figure is lower than the Israeli goal, the publication added. The WSJ, citing an Israeli estimate, added that, prior to the war, Hamas’s strength lay at around 30,000 fighters. Last week, the IDF reported that 9,000 of those had been killed.
Despite much of Gaza being in ruins, new assessments show the terror group is still far from being vanquished, the WSJ said. Hamas’s tactics have shifted since the beginning of the war, with the terror group focusing its guerilla warfare on smaller groups and lurking behind traps they set for IDF soldiers.
According to the US estimate, Hamas has enough ammunition and weapons to enable it to continue attacking the IDF in Gaza for months. In addition, a classified US report shows evidence that in a bid to reinstate its control, Hamas is reconstituting its police force within Gaza City, as per the WSJ.
Additionally, the US estimates that some 10,500 to 11,700 terrorists have been wounded and could soon be combat-ready once again. The IDF has reportedly slightly different numbers and estimates that 16,000 terrorists have been wounded, half of whom are incapacitated and unable to return to fight.
Israeli officials have recognized Hamas’s prime goal as survival, notwithstanding the losses it has sustained, the report continued. The numbers come amid US pressure on Israel to reduce the scale of operations in Gaza and the overall aim of the war from the complete destruction of the terror group to its elimination as a threat. The US has also requested that the IDF shift its actions to targeting primarily Hamas leadership, the WSJ concluded.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) says five of its “military advisers” have been killed in an Israeli air raid on a residential building in Syria’s capital, Damascus. Syrian state media SANA said the attack on Saturday took place in the Mazzeh neighborhood. Iran also blamed Israel for the attack, saying it “reserves the right to respond”. Earlier, the foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said Tehran would respond “at the appropriate time and place”, and condemned “an escalation in aggressive and provocative attacks” by Israel. The target was a building hosting an IRGC intelligence unit, where a senior IRGC intelligence official in Syria and his assistants were resident. Israel has neither confirmed or denied its involvement.
Israel President Yitzchak Herzog was in Davos, Switzerland last week attending this year’s World Economic Forum. In a one-on-one with Bǿrge Brende, former Foreign Minister of Norway, Herzog made a detailed and coherent case for Israel which you can view here…..
Seeking Future Leadership
In our ongoing series, another person who has potential for national involvement is Sarit Firon, Managing Partner of Team8 Capital, the newest investment vehicle of the Team8 Group. One of Israel’s most accomplished investors known for helping to build companies and bring them to IPO and acquisitions, Sarit brings more than 26 years of global investment and operational experience across Silicon Valley, New York, and Tel Aviv. She has held numerous operational and leadership roles, serving as CEO, CFO, Chairperson, and board member at prominent high-tech companies. She served as CFO at MediaMind during its Nasdaq IPO and acquisition by DG Corp for $517M, as well as at P-Cube during its $200M acquisition by Cisco. She also led the seed round of Datorama, taking an active board member role until the company’s $800M acquisition by Salesforce.
Prior to joining Team8 Capital, Sarit was Managing Partner of Cerca Partners, which invested in tech companies in the Israeli ecosystem and was part of some of the most notable acquisitions and IPOs including Armis (acquired by Insight Partners for $1.1B), Alooma (acquired by Google), Demisto (acquired by Palo Alto Networks for $560), Dynamic Yield (acquired by McDonalds for $300M) and Fiverr (NYSE: FVRR).
Sarit’s experience gives her both exceptional insight and instincts about the viability of a startup, as well as the proven ability to be an active partner in its development and growth. Sarit also sits on the board of Shitufim, a social impact non-profit organization. She holds a B.A. in Accounting and Economics from Tel-Aviv University in Israel. No doubt the Minister of Finance in the next government would or should be happy to have her as a member of the team.
After my op ed appeared in today’s Jerusalem Post there were a lot of comments about how we don’t need technocrats running the country. I found those to be an interesting misunderstanding of my intention in featuring profiles of potential leaders. I am certainly not suggesting that they run the government, rather that the government should be aware of this treasure trove of talent and find ways to make use of them in positions which match their capacities. But of course, people see what they want to see even if that is not the intention of the writer. As we close 107 days of war, let’s hope that cooler heads find an exit ramp that works for all parties concerned.