Israel’s top generals want ceasefire – NYT

The IDF doesn’t have enough troops or ammo to fight in Gaza and Lebanon simultaneously, officials have told the New York Times

Dozens of senior Israeli generals want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to strike a truce deal with Hamas so they can prepare for a potential war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

With Israel’s war on Hamas about to enter its ninth month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has lost at least 674 troops, supplies of artillery shells are low, and around 120 Israelis – dead and alive – remain held as hostages in Gaza. Hamas fighters have popped up in areas of the enclave previously cleared by the IDF, and Netanyahu has still refused to publicly state whether Israel intends to occupy post-war Gaza or turn the territory over to a Palestinian government.

Against this background, the 30 senior generals who make up Israel’s General Staff Forum want Netanyahu to reach a ceasefire with Hamas, even if this means leaving the militants in power in Gaza, the New York Times reported.

According to six current and former security officials, five of whom requested anonymity, the generals want time to rest their troops and stockpile ammunition in case a land war with Hezbollah breaks out. Additionally, the generals also view a truce as the best means of freeing the remaining hostages, contradicting Netanyahu’s insistence that only “total victory” over Hamas would bring the captives home.

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Israel aims for Hamas-free ‘bubbles’ in postwar Gaza – FT

“The military is in full support of a hostage deal and a ceasefire,” former Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata told the newspaper. 

“They believe that they can always go back and engage Hamas militarily in the future,” he continued. “They understand that a pause in Gaza makes de-escalation more likely in Lebanon. And they have less munitions, less spare parts, less energy than they did before – so they also think a pause in Gaza gives us more time to prepare in case a bigger war does break out with Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed political movement and paramilitary force, entered the Israel-Hamas conflict last October. However, the group waged a limited campaign of tit-for-tat drone and missile strikes on northern Israel, which leader Hassan Nasrallah said in November was aimed at tying up Israeli forces near the border to prevent their deployment to Gaza.

Netanyahu announced last month that he would pull some IDF units out of Gaza and move them to the Lebanese border, stoking fears of an imminent invasion of Lebanon. Tension was further heightened last week when Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that the IDF was “preparing for every scenario” and could take “Lebanon back to the Stone Age.”

READ MORE: Iran threatens Israel with ‘obliterating war’

The US has reportedly warned against starting even a “limited war” in Lebanon, while Iran has declared that it would “support Hezbollah by all means” in such a conflict.

The Israeli military has not publicly endorsed a ceasefire in Gaza. In a statement to the New York Times, the IDF said it was still working toward the destruction of “Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, the return of the hostages, and the return of Israeli civilians from the south and the north safely to their homes.” Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the report.

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