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Israel took hours to counterattack Hamas, but what is their long-term goal?

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By Euronews with AP
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It was just a matter of hours before Israel retaliated against Hamas after its 7 October attack which sent shock waves around the world. But what is the government's long-term goal and who is paying the price?

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Israel took just hours to prepare its retaliation against Hamas and a few weeks for a ground offensive, after the 7 October attack which killed more than 1,400 of its citizens and injured over 3,300.

Both Israeli intelligence and the military seemed to be caught by surprise by the worst assault on Jews since the Holocaust. This created further anger and division within the people of Israel towards the government.

Ugo Tramballi works for the Italian Institute of International Political Studies (ISPI).  “Israel could not fail to respond to what happened on October 7," he says. "It is a cul de sac, though, in the sense that is precisely what Hamas wanted: the ground strategy.”

Tramballi goes on to explain that Israel's original objective was to eradicate Hamas completely. However, this plan became impossible under pressure from the US and a number of moral reasons against the Gaza Strip bombings. In addition, as rapidly as Israel eliminates many militiamen and Hamas leaders, new ones are appointed resulting in a never-ending battle. 

Since the backlash of the first attack by Hamas, the Israel Defence Force has been attacking the Palestinian enclave in preparation for its ground offensive.

This has killed over 9,000 people, injured at least 32,000, and displaced 1.4 million inhabitants of Gaza.

The Israeli authorities insist the goal is to eliminate Hamas militants, not civilians. They justify the bombing of hospital and civilian areas by claiming that militiamen and Hamas leaders are hiding there. 

Bradley Bowman is the Senior Director of the Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.“It's important to distinguish between a designated terrorist organisation whose explicit charter says that it wants to exterminate the state of Israel and kill Jews," he says.  "And your average Palestinian who just wants to raise their children in peace and security. A lot of these Hamas leaders are residing in plush hotels in Qatar and hanging out in Turkey and having meetings in Lebanon where they powwow with the heads of Hezbollah.”

After 29 days of war, many are left questioning what to expect in the long term.

Experts say there are no easy answers. No lasting peace or even compromise has been achieved in the region for decades. The last peace talks were held at a UN international meeting in support of peace between Palestine and Israel 10 years ago with no concrete results.

Both sides will need to answer the UN's Independent Commission of Inquiry, which has been collecting evidence of war crimes since 7 October.

Stakes are at an all-time high for the future of the Palestinian Territories, as well as for Israeli democracy, which has been the subject of protests in recent months over controversial plans for judicial reform.

No one can really say what will come from this war, but experts say once the war is over, negotiations should resume to find a political solution that will lead to a two-state solution.

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