Netanyahu Adviser: ‘Hamas Cannot Be Eliminated’

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Tel Aviv will soon roll out a plan to replace Hamas in northern Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top national security aide said that Hamas is an idea and cannot be defeated. His comments put him at odds with the Israeli leader, who has pledged to eradicate the Palestinian militant group.

At the 21st Herzliya Conference on Tuesday, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said, “You cannot completely get Hamas to disappear because it’s an idea, a concept. So you need a competing, alternative concept, and that would be a local leadership willing to live side-by-side with Israel and not to devote its life to killing Israelis.”

The remarks are similar to those made by Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who explained that Netanyahu’s stated objective in Gaza was unachievable. “This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear – it’s simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public,” he said. “Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It’s rooted in the hearts of the people – whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong.”

Netanyahu worked quickly to walk back Hagari’s remarks, saying, “The destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities is one of the goals of the war. The Israeli military, of course, is committed to this.”

Hanegbi provided some vague details on how he sees the war in Gaza developing. The national security adviser claimed that Israel would neutralize Hamas’s armed and political wings, then set up an alternative.

He claimed that Israel would begin establishing this alternative to Hamas in northern Gaza in the coming days. “I expect that in the coming days we will see the concrete realization of this plan,” he continued. “We believe in it and believe it will put Hamas under great pressure.”

However, Tel Aviv insists it defeated Hamas in northern Gaza in January. At the time, Hagari told reporters the IDF had “completed the dismantling” of Hamas’s command structure in the north. In May, Israeli forces reinvaded those areas of the Strip and again fought members of Palestinian resistance groups.

Hanegbi said that fighting in Gaza will come to an end if the international community pressures Hamas to accept an Israeli-proposed ceasefire agreement. It is unclear what agreement he is referring to, as Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Tel Aviv will not sign on to any deal that brings the conflict to an end. Hamas officials continue to state they will release the Israeli hostages as part of a deal that brings a permanent end to the war.

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.