'Impossible to wipe out Hamas completely,' former top RAF officer says, with Israel invasion of Gaza to be 'phased'

28 October 2023, 10:19

Sean Bell said it would be very hard for the IDF to wipe out Hamas entirely
Sean Bell said it would be very hard for the IDF to wipe out Hamas entirely. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Kit Heren

A former senior RAF officer has told LBC that it would likely be impossible for Israel to obliterate Hamas.

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The Israeli army began an "expanded" military operation in Gaza overnight on Friday, with tanks and troops still in the territory on Saturday morning, and a massive bombardment of the north of the strip.

The IDF also said that it had killed another senior Hamas officer - the head of the group's aerial operations, who conducted the hang-gliding raid into Israel on October 7.

Israel has repeatedly vowed to wipe out Hamas after the massacre, which left 1,400 dead, with around 200 hostages taken back to Gaza.

But former Air Vice Marshal Sean Bell said that destroying Hamas entirely would probably not be feasible.

Read more: 'Israeli troops and tanks in Gaza' as IDF 'expands operations' against Hamas and bombardment ramps up

Read more: Israel launches ‘unprecedented’ strikes in Gaza as power and internet cut off amid 'expanding operations'

Air Vice-Marshal Sean Bell on the need for Israel to be 'very careful'

He told LBC's Andrew Castle: "As a military guy, you're always looking for a clear objective for any military operation.

"And whilst obliterating Hamas makes a great soundbite for the media, it actually isn't a very achievable objective, not least of which you can take out most of our masses, infrastructure, some of its leadership, maybe some of its weapons supplies, but as to its fighters, they will just blend away into the Palestinian population.

"It's almost certain that that is not a an achievable objective, but [the army will] inevitably try to write down that capability as far as they can. And that seems to be what Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking to do."

He added that Hamas would have known the extent of Israel's response to their attacks on October 7.

"So they will have had plenty of time to prepare, they would have have been able to secure lots of weapons through their Iranian sources."

Israel is bombarding Gaza
Israel is bombarding Gaza. Picture: Getty

Mr Bell said Israel had to be "very, very careful. We're seeing a number of these raids by the Israelis, which is typical military. It's probing the Hamas defences on a nightly basis, seeing where the capabilities lie, cutting off the power and particularly cutting off the communications network forces Hamas to use their backup comms and of course, many of those could be intercepted.

He added that he thought "the actual invasion when it comes...will still be a phased operation, it'll probably still be just the armour going in first to put a ring of steel around Gaza City.

"But if you decide to actually go into the city itself, it's not a role for armour, that's for infantry, and every corner, every window, every doorway will be a threat to the Israeli Defence Force and will be incredibly dangerous for them.

"It will not be an easy operation at all."

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