PM Netanyahu presents plan for ‘day after Hamas’

  • The plan was presented as a draft platform for further discussion, and is based on different timelines:
    • In the first stage, the IDF will continue fighting with the aim of destroying Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) military capabilities and government infrastructure and prevent them from posing a threat in the future. In addition, Israel will continue to strive to bring the hostages home.
    • In the second, medium-term phase, Israel will maintain freedom of operation in the Gaza Strip. Israel will work alongside Egypt and the US to ensure an end to weapons smuggling from Egypt into southern Gaza. Ensuring the Strip will be demilitarised. Israel will seek to empower a Gazan “civilian administration”, based “on local figures with administrative experience who have no affiliation with countries or organisations that support terrorism.”
    • Relating to the long term, Netanyahu “utterly rejects international dictates in the matter of a permanent status arrangement with the Palestinians.” Any arrangement will only be reached in direct negotiations between the sides without preconditions. Accordingly, Israel will continue to oppose unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

Context: Although these are only general guidelines, it is the first time that the prime minister has presented a position of any kind on ‘the day after’.

  • Notably, this document did not explicitly rule out the Palestinian Authority (PA) playing a part in future governance in Gaza.
  • Although politically sensitive within the coalition, there is understanding that in order to get buy-in from potential regional partners (UAE and Saudi Arabia) to contribute to the rehabilitation of Gaza, some form of Palestinian leadership, perhaps a reconstituted PA and a long-term vision towards a negotiated political resolution will be necessary.
  • The IDF is expected to launch a pilot programme in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighbourhood, in which local civilians take over the administration of the area from Hamas. The trial civilian authority will look to take charge of distributing humanitarian aid, much of which currently ends up in the hands of Hamas, which uses it for its own ends to the cost of the civilian population.
  • Another component of Netanyahu’s plan talks about the necessity to “de-radicalise all the religious, educational and welfare institutions in the Gaza Strip.”  This would also include closing down UNRWA and replacing it with other international welfare agencies.
  • In the meantime, fighting continues across Gaza. The IDF announced, over the last day:
    • A terrorist cell that were carrying an explosive device and which fired an RPG at IDF troops, was eliminated by IDF and Israeli Air Forces (IAF).
    • IDF soldiers located dozens of rockets and explosive devices.
    • IDF troops continue operations in western Khan Yunis. In the past day, more than ten terrorists were killed by precise sniper fire and UAV strikes.
    • The IAF destroyed a weapons storage facility, a command centre, and a compound where several terrorists were located, adjacent to IDF troops.
    • Additionally, IDF troops continue to conduct targeted raids in Zeitoun in the northern Gaza Strip, where over the past day the soldiers killed over ten terrorists using precise sniper fire, UAVs, and helicopters, and located weapons and military equipment. Troops also located weapons and uncovered tunnel shafts in the Zeitoun area.
    • IDF troops eliminated several terrorists in the central Gaza Strip. During one incident, the soldiers identified a terrorist cell at an observation post in a strategic location, intending to attack IDF troops. A helicopter was then dispatched to strike the post and neutralise the terrorist cell.
  • Meanwhile, Israel continues to fight on multiple fronts:
    • There has been sustained rocket fire from Lebanon into northern Israel throughout Thursday, into the evening and again this morning. As usual the IDF returned fire to the sources.
    • In addition, the IAF struck a Hezbollah military compound in the area of Maroun El Ras and a Hezbollah military compound in the area of Blida. Arab media reports suggest that a senior Hezbollah commander was killed in the attack, along with another combatant. Overall, Hezbollah has announced 208 fighters killed so far.
    • The IDF confirmed that the interception of a long range ballistic missile from Yemen towards Eilat on Thursday morning was the seventh time the Arrow Aerial Defence System had successfully been deployed since the beginning of the war.
    • In the West Bank, the IDF announced, “a terrorist who was on his way to commit a terror attack, and who carried out several shooting attacks over the past weeks was eliminated in an aerial strike in Jenin.” Yasser Hanoun, affiliated with PIJ was killed by a remotely operated UAV.

Looking ahead: A delegation led by the directors of the Mossad and Shin Bet will leave today for a summit in Paris for a renewal of the hostage negotiations. Among the key issues yet to be resolved is the ratio between the Palestinian prisoners to be released per hostage.