Ex Mossad chief: Israel suffering ‘painful’ losses, failing to defeat Hamas

Efraim Havely. Credit: Eli Itkin - Eli Itkin (Creative Commons License)

The ex-Mossad chief has said Benjamin Netanyahu must resign because he cannot unite his own country, and because Israel is suffering “painful” losses in Gaza and has failed to bring Hamas to its knees.

In an interview with The Times, Efraim Halevy, who led Israel’s foreign intelligence services from 1998-2002, said Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar “holds the cards” and that is why he is refusing ceasefire deals.

“He holds the cards, the hostages, but that would not be enough – I think he also holds his own survival and the survival of his forces, up to a point,” Halevy said. “And we are suffering losses, all of them very painful.”

Halevy said the Prime Minister had failed to bring Hamas to its knees in a “whirlwind victory.”

“When it all began, Netanyahu said we will chase Hamas to the end of the world. Now, he’s not repeating this statement,” Halevy said.

He also warned against re-occupying Gaza.

“You must refrain from entering the situation of occupation. We have enough on our hands in the West Bank and everything it symbolises. I think the recipe for the West Bank which he [Netanyahu] has should not be a recipe for anywhere,” said Halevy.

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“Ultimately, there has to be an element of self-rule by the population,” he said. “I don’t think we have the capacity to dictate to them how they’re going to run their affairs once we are no longer there.”

The Israeli military admitted yesterday that nine more soldiers had been killed in Gaza in one of its biggest 24-hour death tolls in the war, bringing total Israeli losses there to 187. This brings the total number of Israeli soldier deaths since October 7 to 560.

On the prospect of all-out war with Hezbollah, Halevy said this will be restrained by the U.S.

“We do want in some way to indirectly negotiate with Iranians on what will happen in the north. I think that Iran does not wish for war now with Israel, because they believe, and rightly so, that if they went to war with Israel, they have to contend with the possibility that there would be war with the United States,” said Halevy.

“On the one hand, it gives us a sense that we could go up to a certain level of confrontation there if Hezbollah raises the ante in the north. If we feel that we have to take military steps against them, the Iranians would try to restrain them.”

He added: “A lot depends on China, who have stepped up their activities enormously in the last decade,” Halevy said of China’s fairly recent defensive agreement with Iran. “The story of Hamas is one story, then the story of Iran and Iraq, of the Houthis, of the question of Saudi Arabia’s future policies … everything is, I won’t say up for grabs, but it’s a very volatile situation at the moment. And this could really create unexpected and unforeseen results.”

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