Photo Credit: Israel Defense Ministry
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) meets with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin in Tel Aviv, Dec. 18, 2023.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reiterated Israel’s determination – expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well — not to allow the Hamas terrorist organization to resume its prior control over Gaza.

Gallant made the point clear on Sunday during an operational briefing at IDF Southern Command headquarters, and again late Sunday night during a phone conversation with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.


The operational briefing, which focused on IDF activities aimed at dismantling Hamas terror battalions across Gaza – and in Rafah in particular – included discussions on the intelligence efforts supporting the IDF and Shin Bet operations.

The Head of the Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Yossi Bachar, and additional senior officials were present for the briefing.

“The operation in Rafah is progressing above and below ground,“ Gallant said.

“Our troops are determined – they are destroying the ‘lines’ connecting Gaza to Egypt and putting an end to Hamas – the terrorist organization will not have the ability to overcome, strengthen and equip itself,” he said.

“While we conduct our important military actions, the defense establishment is simultaneously assessing an alternative government to Hamas. We will isolate areas [in Gaza], remove Hamas operatives from these areas and introduce forces that will enable an alternative government to form – an alternative that threatens Hamas,” Gallant said.

These two actions, the military operation on one hand and creating the potential for a governing alternative on the other, will enable us to achieve two of the goals of this war: the removal of Hamas as a governing and military authority in Gaza, and the return of the hostages.

“We will not accept the rule of Hamas in Gaza at any stage in any process aimed at ending the war,” Gallant declared.

Easier said than done, however. Hamas operatives have consistently murdered any non-Hamas individual or group encouraged by Israel and foreign governments to play a role in facilitating delivery of humanitarian aid in the enclave, let alone anyone who attempts to take a role in local leadership.

Later in the evening, the minister spoke with his American counterpart by phone, a conversation in which Gallant emphasized Israel’s commitment to dismantling Hamas as a governing and military authority.

“In this regard, he discussed the issue of identifying and enabling the emergence of a local, governing alternative,” Gallant’s office told reporters.

The minister also discussed “Israel’s ongoing efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid and services to civilians in Gaza, while pursuing military activities and in spite of Hamas’ ongoing attempts to sabotage and divert aid,” his office said.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.