Americas, Middle East

Hamas has 'significant force posture' inside Gaza, says White House

'It's not likely that you're going to get rid of every single Hamas fighter,' says spokesperson

Michael Hernandez  | 04.01.2024 - Update : 04.01.2024
Hamas has 'significant force posture' inside Gaza, says White House


Hamas forces in the besieged Gaza Strip remain "significant," the White House said Wednesday following three months of war that have resulted in mass devastation and displacement in the coastal enclave.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the Biden administration has estimates for the number of Hamas fighters that remain on the battlefield, but said he is "loathe" to release them.

"Hamas still has a significant force posture inside Gaza," he said.

When asked about Israel's stated aim of eradicating Hamas in Gaza, Kirby deflected, saying "We don't believe that military attacks alone are gonna eradicate an ideology. And it's not likely that you're going to get rid of every single Hamas fighter."

"So in that sense you still have to reconcile yourself with the fact that there may still be some Hamas around even when your military operation is over. That said, what they absolutely can do is eradicate the threat that Hamas poses to the Israeli people. And you can do that by going after leadership. You can do that by going after their infrastructure. You can do that by going after their resources," he said.

Israel began its war in Gaza in retaliation for Hamas' shocking cross-border attack on Oct. 7 in which an estimated 1,200 people were killed, and hundreds more taken back to Gaza as hostages.

Widespread Israeli strikes in the densely-populated territory have led to the displacement of the vast majority of Gaza's over 2 million inhabitants amid rampant shortages of daily necessities, including food, water and medicine. Roughly 70% of Gaza's homes have been destroyed by Israeli attacks.

Israel has restricted the volume of humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza, and current levels are far below those seen prior to the war when needs were severe, but far less acute.

In the nearly three months that have passed, over 22,100 Palestinians have been killed, roughly two-thirds of whom have been women and children. Over 57,000 others have been injured, according to Gaza's health authorities.

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