israel gaza city invasion
© Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty ImagesIsraeli troops walk past destroyed buildings on the outskirts of Gaza City, December 1, 2023
The Financial Times reported speaking with sources who said that Israel plans to wage war on Gaza for over a year. In a little less than two months, Israel has killed at least 15,000 people, damaged 100,000 buildings, displaced 1.7 million Palestinians, and destroyed most of Gaza's medical facilities.

On Friday, FT reported sources said Israel was preparing for a multi-phase conflict in Gaza that will last at least a year. "This will be a very long war...We're currently not near halfway to achieving our objectives," said one person familiar with the Israeli war plans.

According to the sources, Israel's goals include "killing the three top Hamas leaders — Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Marwan Issa — while securing a decisive military victory against the group's 24 battalions and underground tunnel network and destroying its governing capability in Gaza."

Israel does not appear close to achieving these goals. US sources have said that Israel's military operations in Gaza have failed to impact high or even mid-level Hamas members. On Sunday, the Guardian reported that Israeli officials estimated that 1,000 - 2,000 Hamas members had been killed. However, FT spoke with an Israeli military source who gave an estimate of 5,000 dead Hamas members. It is unclear why there is such a large discrepancy in the numbers, as both were given during the week-long pause in fighting.

In either case, the Israeli military operations have killed more children, at least 6,000, than members of Hamas. The massive civilian toll has led to mounting world opinion against Israeli military operations.
Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi idf israel
© IDF Spokesperson's UnitMaj. Gen. Herzi Halevi
Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended a meeting of the Israeli war cabinet on Thursday and warned that Tel Aviv will lose more international support as the conflict continues. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff, said military operations in Gaza will take "more than a few additional weeks," suggesting Tel Aviv did not plan to follow Washington's advice. Still, America's top diplomat said Washington was still firmly committed to arming Tel Aviv.


Comment: So, who's actually in charge here?


The first phase of the war, an intense bombing campaign and ground invasion, is expected to last well into 2024. One source said the first phase of the war is about 40% complete. "Gaza City isn't finished yet, nor fully conquered. It's probably 40% done," the person explained. "For the north as a whole, it will probably require another two weeks to a month."

The second phase will be an operation with fewer military operations aimed at stabilizing Gaza. While the sources told FT that the second phase is projected to continue until late 2024, Israeli officials say they cannot predict a firm endpoint to the conflict.

The Biden administration has pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to allow the Palestinian Authority to control Gaza after Hamas is defeated. However, one source told FT that Tel Aviv will not listen to Washington, even as the US provides Israel with billions of dollars in weapons. "No one, not even the US, can talk to them about this," said one of the sources familiar with the matter. That person emphasized that this point was crucial to Netanyahu keeping his far-right war cabinet together.
Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.