Israel vowed to eliminate the terror group after its grisly attacks on southern Israel on October 7, when 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages, mostly civilians.

Shtayyeh argued that Israel cannot eliminate Hamas. “Hamas is not in Gaza only. Hamas is in Lebanon, everybody knows Hamas leadership is in Qatar and they are here in the West Bank,” he told Bloomberg.

“Hamas before October 7 is one thing and after it is another thing,” the PA prime minister further asserted. “If they are ready to come to an agreement and accept the political platform of the PLO, then there will be room for talk. Palestinians should not be divided.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has concluded his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. [...] Netanyahu says he told Blinken: [...] “I told him we have sworn, and I have sworn, to destroy Hamas. Nothing will stop us,” he says, reiterating that the war in Gaza will continue until Israel frees all its hostages, vanquishes Hamas and guarantees that no similar threat will ever be posed again from Gaza.


Does Israel have any plan in getting rid of Hamas outside of Gaza? An official from the Palestinian Authority claimed that Hamas exist outside of Gaza and thus they're impossible to get rid of. Israel said it wanted to free the hostages, remove Hamas from power in Gaza and ensure that no similar threat will ever be posed again from Gaza. However, I have not heard Israel say anything about the Hamas presence outside of Gaza. Is there any official policy on this?


4 Answers 4


Kinda yes.

Israel will hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel's public broadcaster Kan on Sunday [Dec 3].

But then

The agency itself declined to comment on the report.

Israel has some history doing this of course. Sometimes successfully, sometimes less so.

N.B., about a week before

Netanyahu says that he has “instructed the Mossad to act against the heads of Hamas wherever they are.”

Asked whether the truce applies to targeting Hamas chiefs — a presumed reference to those abroad — Netanyahu says there is “no such obligation.”


Hunting down Hamas officials living abroad would not be something new for Israel - see Targeted killing by Israel - this also included assassinating major Hamas figures, with the Hamas leader Khaled Mashal avoiding death by a margin in 1997.
In fact, Netanyahu had to reassure Qatar that Israel was jot intending to carry out assassinations on Qatar territory during the Qatar negotiated truce:

According to Le Figaro, Qatar received assurances from Israel that the Mossad would not carry out assassinations on its soil, and that "Doha presented its precondition to Israel a few weeks ago, before assuming its role as a mediator in the abductee issue."

The point is however not taking out every member of Hamas, but depriving Hamas from its ability to carry out attacks against Israeli population, and ousting it from power in Gaza - replacing it by a Palestinian government, which would actually work towards improving life of the Palestinians and negotiated settlement with Israel.

Literally eliminating Hamas would be nearly impossible and counterproductive: Hamas began as a Muslim charity, affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood - they run schools, kindergartens, poverty assistance and other bon-threatening activities (although including heavy amount of indoctrination, inciting little children to kill and/or become martyrs.) More recently Hamas has been running Gaza in dictatorial fashion, which means that pretty much everyone in Gaza Administration is formally affiliated with Hamas. Dismantling Hamas completely thus would risk plunging Gaza in chaos, similar to the one that the US created in Iraq by insisting on de-Baathization after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

On the other hand, if Hamas fighting force is destroyed, if it is deprived of weapons, training grounds, and financing - it will be effectively destroyed. Its leaders in Qatar or elsewhere would then become just figureheads, kings without kingdom.


Obviously they aren't saying that they will hunt down every last guy who's brother was friends with a member of Hamas - they mean that they will destroy the Hamas terrorist organization.

This PA guy is making a strawman argument - Israel says they want to destroy Hamas, but there will still be 12 guys in a cave in Lebanon and a rich guy in 12 penthouses in Qatar, so therefor we should accept Hamas' existence and not destroy them.

This is a ludicrous argument from him - it is quite obvious that Israel intends to destroy Hamas' operational capabilities and make them cease to exist as an entity, while also killing as many terrorists as possible to prevent the re-forming of the group after Hamas doesn't exist as an entity.

The quote you bring really shows this.

"...reiterating that the war in Gaza will continue until Israel frees all its hostages, vanquishes Hamas and guarantees that no similar threat will ever be posed again from Gaza"

The effort is obviously to remove the threat of Hamas in Gaza, not kill every random person who ever had what to do with Hamas at any point in their life.

  • 1
    I feel like you're strawmanning Shtayyeh's argument, not the other way round. "12 guys in a cave in Lebanon and a rich guy in 12 penthouses in Qatar" is your claim, not his: he makes no mention how how strong or weak Hamas is in those countries, only that they exist there.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 10, 2023 at 15:36
  • "Obviously they aren't saying that they will hunt down every last guy who's brother was friends with a member of Hamas" - who's saying that that is what Israel's saying? Again, that feels like strawmanning.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 10, 2023 at 15:37
  • @F1Krazy I'm not straw manning, I'm exatarating to bring out the point that Israel's goal is to make Hamas not exist as both an entity and an organization that is able to do stuff. So of course there will still be terrorists after - that's inescapable. But even without Hamas there are plenty to go around. There point is to make Hamas not exist anymore, thereby removing the specific threat posed by them.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Dec 10, 2023 at 15:45
  • @F1Krazy I don't think what I'm saying is that much more ridiculous than what he is saying. Its a small exagaration to bring out the silliness in the argument tha he is actually making.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Dec 10, 2023 at 15:47
  • Wikipedia's entry on Hamas has a 2010 map showing the Hamas political HQ -- which feels like the heads of Hamas -- was in Syria. It didn't say how many caves. Dec 10, 2023 at 19:52

That talk about eradicating Hamas where-ever they may be seems like bluster. For one thing, Hamas isn't even the real problem. The BBC's How Hamas built a force to attack Israel on 7 October tells us there were 10 other Palestinian factions involved. Ever since Israel invaded Palestine over 50 years ago, there's been violent conflict, and no matter who replaced Hamas in Gaza, history says Israel is going to treat them like garbage and some Gazans are going to react violently. On the other side, Hamas fighters outside of Israel can't do much, since they have to answer to that government (more on this, later).

Another is that Israel doesn't hold grudges that way. Do you see where that statement talks about the peaceful PLO? That's the Palestinian Liberation Organization which practiced terrorism in the 70's and 80's. They came to an agreement with Israel in the '90's and peacefully moved in to govern Gaza. Israel let bygones be bygones when it was practical. The PLO also points up the "Hamas outside of Israel" problem. When they were based in Jordan they tried several raids on Israel. Those were stopped by Jordan's military, who didn't need the trouble.

And then there's Israel's PM Netanyahu. He's on trial for corruption and could go to jail. The trial was suspended after the Oct 7th attack, but resumed last Monday. Needing to chase Hamas to the ends of the earth is good "you can't convict me. You need me!" war-time president stuff, leading supporters to call for more delays in the trial.

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