Israel Defense Forces (IDF) southern commander Major General Sami Turgeman sees no immediate alternative to Hamas’s rule in Gaza and does not believe it is possible to defeat the Palestinian terror group in month-long military campaigns like last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
“Gaza has an independent authority that functions like a country; there is a government and an annual plan, with executive bodies and inspection authorities,” Turgeman told a gathering of community leaders at Kibbutz Nahal Oz near Israel’s border with Gaza on Monday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “Within the country there is a ruler that is called Hamas which knows how to exercise power over the other authorities. As of now, there is no substitute ruler to replace Hamas in the Strip.”
Turgeman, who is slated to retire in two months, said there is little likelihood that there will be a popular uprising against Hamas in Gaza.
“Most of the citizens in the strip see Hamas as the only solution to their problems,” he said. “Whoever thinks there could be a national uprising-it doesn’t look likely. The chances it could happen are not high.”
Recently, Hamas has been cracking down on the growing number of Islamic State-inspired extremist Salafi groups in Gaza. These groups seeks to replace Hamas and install an Islamic Caliphate in the Palestinian coastal enclave; ironically, they view Hamas as being too soft on Israel and failing to install Sharia law.
Turgeman said that for Hamas, simply staying in power is viewed as a success.
“For Hamas, the number of dead and amount of our attacks are not a measure of success or lack of success,” he said. “What matters is that it didn’t lose and that it stayed in power.”