Israeli defence official says next Gaza conflict will aim to topple Hamas

A senior official from Israel’s defence ministry has said that although Israel has no intention of retaking control of the Gaza Strip, the aim of a future conflict with Hamas would be to topple the regime.

An unnamed high-ranking official at Israel’s defence ministry yesterday briefed journalists and said that the security establishment assumes that there will be another conflict with Hamas.

The official emphasised that they “have no interest in ruling Gaza, and so long as there’s no alternative government, there’s no reason for us to be there.”

However, the official added: “On the other hand, we can’t wage an unending war of attrition. That’s why the next clash must be the Hamas regime in Gaza’s last. We’re not seeking some wild adventure, but a clash with Hamas is inevitable. It’s a constant and growing threat, and we need to be ready and prepared for it.”

Israel and Hamas have fought several bloody conflicts since Hamas violently overthrew the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza in 2007. Since the most recent conflict, Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, rockets have continued to be fired infrequently at Israel from Gaza. Meanwhile, Hamas is steadily replenishing its stockpile of missiles and rebuilding the underground network of tunnels in Gaza, which is designed to attack and threaten Israel.

Although it is unclear if there is a direct correlation, Israel’s new Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who took office earlier this month, has previously advocated removing Hamas from power if another Gaza conflict erupts.

Meanwhile, in Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea reports that Israel’s defence establishment has decided to build an underground concrete wall alongside the Gaza border, in an attempt to counter the threat of Hamas’ subterranean tunnel network. Apparently, the defensive barrier will reach tens of metres underground and is estimated to cost £360m.

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