Hamas Death Toll Falls Far Short of Israel’s Goals

Hamas Death Toll Falls Far Short of Israel’s Goals

When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots—forces larger than yours—have no fear of them, for Hashem your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, is with you. Deuteronomy 20:1

A report in the Wall Street Journal cited U.S. intelligence agencies as claiming that the IDF war in Gaza had eliminated 20% to 30% of Hamas terrorists. The sources claimed that this falls far short of Israel’s stated goal of eliminating the existential threat from its southern border. 

“The U.S. estimate of the group’s casualties also found that Hamas still has enough munitions to continue striking Israel and Israeli forces in Gaza for months, and that the group is attempting to reconstitute its police force in parts of Gaza City, according to U.S. officials who confirmed a classified report” the WSJ report wrote.

Hamas terrorists in Gaza City, Sept. 21, 2022. Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90.
(source: JNS)

“The group’s fighters have adjusted their tactics, operating in smaller groups and hiding between ambushes on Israeli troops, while individual fighters are likely taking on more tasks to pick up the slack from their dead comrades, military analysts said.”

The report noted that Israel had adjusted its offensive due to pressure from the Biden administration, scaling back its offensive to a “surgical phase”. These new tactics have resulted in increased IDF casualties.

The WSJ report claimed that the Biden administration no longer supports an Israeli effort to entirely eliminate the Hamas terrorist organization.

“Biden administration officials have begun to scale down their expectations for the war, to Hamas’s degradation as a security threat from its utter destruction,” WSJ wrote. “And the U.S. has urged Israel to shift the war toward more targeted operations aimed at Hamas’s leadership.”

The report cited Hamas health officials as claiming that 24,000 Gazans have died in the war, with about one third being “men”. The Hamas figures don’t distinguish between combatants and civilians and do not differentiate between children and young men under the age of 18 killed while attacking IDF troops. 

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths as it positions fighters, tunnels and other terrorist infrastructure in or even under civilian structures, including schools, hospitals, and mosques.

Hamas is believed to be using Israeli hostages as shields for its top leaders. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant tours the largest ever Hamas attack tunnel uncovered by the IDF December 2023 Photo by Ariel HermoniIsraeli Defense Ministry source JNS

U.S. intelligence estimates put the number of Hamas terrorists at 25-30,000, with thousands more enlisted police and security forces.

The Israeli military estimates that it has eliminated at least 9,000 Hamas terrorists. An additional 1,000 Hamas terrorists were killed inside Israel on October 7. An additional 16,000 Hamas terrorists have been injured, according to Israeli estimates, with about half of those not expected to return to the battlefield.

About 190 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza since the start of Israel’s ground campaign, with around 1,200 wounded, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The report cited U.S. military doctrine as dictating that “a conventional force that loses 25%-30% of its fighters would be considered combat-ineffective”. This doctrine would classify Hamas as being ineffective as a fighting force.

“But Hamas is an irregular force fighting a defensive war in a dense urban environment and has access to hundreds of miles of tunnels under Gaza. It has shown that it can still fight, but the losses ‘continue to put more pressure on Hamas’s network,’ said retired Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who commanded U.S. military operations in the Middle East.”

Israel has considered flooding the tunnels with seawater, as Egypt did in 2015, but international pressure prevented Israel from carrying out this tactic.

Hamas is still firing rockets into Israeli cities.

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