US Intelligence Says Israel Nowhere Close to Its Goal of Eliminating Hamas

A member of Israel's war cabinet suggested the idea of an "absolute defeat" of Hamas is unrealistic

US intelligence officials estimate Israel is nowhere close to its goal of eliminating Hamas after over three months of relentless airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, The Wall Street Journal reported.

US intelligence agencies estimate between 20% and 30% of Hamas fighters have been killed. The US estimates the group has about 25,000-30,000 militants and a few thousand police and other types of forces. There are also other militant groups inside Gaza, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The report came after a member of Israel’s war cabinet, Gadi Eisenkot, suggested the goal of eradicating Hamas is unrealistic in a veiled swipe at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Whoever speaks of the absolute defeat [of Hamas in Gaza] and of it no longer having the will or the capability [to harm Israel], is not speaking the truth. That is why we should not tell tall tales,” said Eisenkot, a former head of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) whose son died fighting in Gaza in December.

“Today, the situation already in the Gaza Strip is that the goals of the war have not yet been achieved, but the war is already not happening. There is a reduced troop deployment, a different modus operandi,” Eisenkot added.

The Journal report said that Hamas was re-establishing its police force in some areas in northern Gaza where the Israeli military has withdrawn troops despite the massive destruction, demonstrating the resilience of Hamas’ forces.

Israel claims it has killed 9,000 Hamas fighters, which is on the higher end of the US intelligence estimate. The US also estimates that between 10,500 and 11,700 militants have been wounded, while Israel says the number of wounded is 16,000. The estimates are not confirmed since Hamas has not released casualty figures and denies that it’s taking heavy losses.

Hamas and other militant factions could be adding to their ranks as Israel has slaughtered so many civilians, making surviving family members more likely to join the resistance against the Israeli invasion. Top US military officials, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q, Brown, have warned that killing so many civilians will help Hamas recruit.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 25,000, including 9,600 children and 6,750 women. Eight thousand people are missing, presumed to be dead or dying under the rubble.

The number does not differentiate between Hamas fighters and civilians, but only about 35% of the dead are men. It’s also unclear if the ministry is recording every Hamas death, as many militants are likely being killed in strikes on underground facilities, leaving their bodies buried deep under rubble.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.