EXCLUSIVE — IDF Commander: Hamas ‘Impressive’ at Exploiting Western Rules

IDF in Gaza (IDF)

Hamas is “impressive” in its ability to exploit the western rules of war to its advantage, using civilian casualties and humanitarian sites to constrain the Israeli military.

That’s the assessment of a senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander in the combat engineering corps, whose soldiers are responsible for finding and destroying the Hamas tunnel network in a large portion of the Gaza Strip.

He spoke to Breitbart News exclusively on Thursday morning.

“It’s impressive how they understand the western rules of conduct very well, and they know how to use them to their benefit,” the commander said.

He elaborated on the operational challenges of operating inside the densely populated civilian areas in Gaza where Hamas had placed its terrorists, weapons, and tunnels — both above ground and below.
The commander described the morale of the IDF as “very high,” despite the weeks-long standoff with the U.S. about whether Israel should be able to enter the town of Rafah, on the Egyptian border, and destroy Hamas’s last remaining battalions.

“People understand, and they know, and believe, and they follow the cause that made us go into this war, very well. And, being Israeli, you have a lot of personal and intimate connection to this thing. Because everyone knows somebody — everybody has something in the game. Whether they live in the vicinity and suffered on October 7, or whether they know people that were killed or kidnapped.” He said it was a point of pride that Israel could fight back.

The commander spoke in the wake of reports in the Arab media that the U.S. had agreed to drop objections to the Rafah operation in exchange for Israel refraining from a large-scale attack on Iran in the wake of last weekend’s missile and drone attack, which IDF air defenses had intercepted almost entirely. (Israeli government spokesperson Raquel Karamson told Breitbart News on Thursday that a time and date for the Rafah operation had been set.)

He elaborated on the importance of Rafah to the war effort: “There are hostages [there], there is value of going into Rafah because it will allow us to cut the oxygen tank, the pipeline that comes from Egypt and allows Hamas to gain weapons, supplies, and military gear, and so forth. On top of that, there are Hamas battalions in Rafah that we haven’t come into contact with.”

The commander added that it was also possible that Hamas could smuggle hostages out of Gaza via Rafah — though he said he suspected Hamas had not done so yet, because there was no humanitarian infrastructure in Egypt that would allow Hamas to hide its leaders and its hostages, as it has been doing in Gaza.
He said that within the IDF, the mood was “still confident” that the U.S. would support Israel, and that there was “no reason for doubt in the partnership,” though he left strategic decisions to the political leadership.

As to the question of civilian casualties, the commander expressed confidence that the low ratio of civilian deaths to combatant deaths in Gaza was “amazing.” He warned against trusting Hamas figures on the number of Palestinians killed, saying that many deaths were unverifiable: “It is very important to remember who publishes that data, those numbers. The same organization that planned and orchestrated the most Holocaust-like act in recent decades is the same organization that publishes these figures. They now how to play the western instruments of media, of public influence, of public opinion. And they know that spiking those numbers up will [be to] their benefit.”
In contrast, he said, Israeli figures on the number of terrorists killed — which he put at some 16,000 — were subject to being verified. Unlike Hamas, the IDF was accountable to the public, and would correct itself if there were mistakes.

Despite Hamas’s blurring of distinctions between civilians and combatants, he said, the IDF was “putting tremendous efforts” into avoiding civilian casualties.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This post has been updated.


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