As the IDF expands its operations in Rafah and returns to fight in areas in the northern Gaza Strip, Arutz Sheva-Israel National News sat down with Brigadier General (res.) Amir Avivi, Chairman and Founder of the Israel Defense And Security Forum (IDSF) to discuss the situation on the ground.

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Regarding reports that Israel only killed a third of Hamas fighters and that victory is far away, Avivi does not believe that is the case. "I think we can reach victory in a month or two. We talk about how many were killed; but how many were injured? How many are incapable of fighting? Much more I would guess."

According to him, "Israel destroyed the Northern Brigade, most of the capabilities in the central camps, as well as the Khan Yunis Brigade. Basically, most of the remaining capabilities are in Rafah. Rafah is the key to victory. The leadership of Hamas is there, our hostages are there, the last brigade of Hamas, and also our ability to close the border and really, completely, destroy Hamas' ability to bring weapons from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza."

Avivi has strong words when it comes to the Biden administration's pressure not to enter Rafah: "What President Biden is saying is 'Israelis, lose the war.' And Israel's not going to lose the war. We're going to win decisively. And I think this is the moment where Israel says, 'We appreciate the relationship, we appreciate the help, the munitions, the 40 billion dollars in aid, but this is something we can not agree to. We need to win decisively. Everything depends on Rafah. This is why you see that the IDF is actually going into Rafah and expanding the operation there every day. We started with two brigades, now it's four brigades. I would assume that in about a week we'll see two more. Expanding until we take over all of Rafah, and destroy all of the tunnels along the Egyptian border, there are more than 50 tunnels that are supplying Hamas with capabilities, and hopefully reach the leadership of Hamas."

He explains that Hamas' strategy is to survive either through international pressure on Israel to stop the war or elections in Israel. "They need political turmoil inside Israel, they want to see demonstrations. So they have no motivation to release hostages since if they release hostages, there will be less pressure on the Israeli government, nobody will be able to claim that the government doesn't care about the hostages."

Avivi proposes that the only thing that Israel can do to bring back the hostages is to up the military pressure. "The only way to bring Hamas to a point where they really contemplate releasing hostages is the moment where they're threatened existentially. When Sinwar sees the end, then he will say 'ok.' Maybe to a ceasefire or to a deal that can enable him to leave for the Sinai Peninsula and give back the hostages. Only military pressure, the Chief of Staff says this, the Minister of Defense says this, the Prime Minister says this, and I think it's time that Israeli society understands that only military pressure will bring back the hostages."

According to Aviv, Israel is not dealing with the issue of humanitarian aid properly. He proposes that Israel take control of the distribution of aid so that it is directed to women and children and not to the terrorists. "Today we are bringing in aid in an uncontrolled way. Most of the aid is seized by Hamas. Through the aid they (Hamas) also control society. There is no other choice but military control, preventing aid from the enemies, bringing aid to civilians, and also sending a message that Hamas is not controlling Gaza anymore, from the civil regard."

He adds that to obtain the war's goals Israel must not only destroy Hamas as a military entity but as a governmental entity as well. "To do that we need to take over responsibility. Only then, when society is convinced that Hamas is gone. Then, we can start gradually building local leadership in the different cities and let them manage their lives in their own cities while keeping the IDF's freedom of operation in the cities and full control of the Egyptian border."

Brigadier General (res.) Amir Avivi will be addressing the Arutz Sheva-Israel National News Jerusalem conference in New York City on Sunday, June 2nd.

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