In a move that represents a dramatic softening from usual Israeli statements, Major General Sami Turgeman, a top commander, said he believes Israel and Hamas have “shared interests.”
“There is no substitute for Hamas as sovereign in the Strip,” Turgeman said, adding that the alternative would be Israeli military occupation and “chaotic rule.”
Maj. Gen. Turgeman also contrasted Hamas with ISIS and al-Qaeda, saying that Hamas “does not want global jihad” and prefers stability in the region. This is a huge shift from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who regularly tries to equate Hamas with ISIS to justify the assorted wars on the strip.
Hamas officials did not directly address Turgeman’s comments, but said they believe “the ball is in the Israeli court” on the current ceasefire, and that if Israel wants to shore up the calm, they should ease the blockade of the tiny strip.
Having a top Israeli military figure admit that Hamas staying in power is beneficial is likely to support such an easing of the blockade, though much of Israel’s far-right coalition is likely to oppose that move.