The many battles of Benjamin Netanyahu

As the battles in Gaza have ground on — the fighting has killed more than 300 Israeli soldiers and more than 37,000 Palestinians — top officers have increasingly flagged the need for a “day after” plan: Who would run Gaza when the fighting ended?

For the commanders, the question is a military necessity. Without a plan for some authority to take control, they cannot pull troops from Gaza without fear that Hamas would quickly regroup, rearm and threaten to carry out another Oct. 7.

For Netanyahu, it is a political minefield. His most extreme partners advocate for Israel to permanently occupy Gaza, and even to rebuild Jewish settlements there.

Caught in the middle, Netanyahu has refused to form any plan at all. When pushed, he repeated only that Israel would keep fighting until Hamas is “destroyed.”

Military leaders, who are close to completing their target lists in Gaza, seem to have had enough. The complaints they had shared with reporters off the record for weeks became increasingly public. Earlier this week, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the IDF’s chief spokesman, said in an interview that “Hamas cannot be destroyed. Hamas is an idea. Those who think it can be made to disappear are wrong.”

The military remains one of the country’s most respected institutions.

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