Yoram Cohen
Yoram CohenLiron Moldovan/Flash 90

Former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yoram Cohen told Channel 12 News in an interview on Saturday night that he is "closer than ever" to joining politics, but added that he has not yet made a final decision on the matter.

On the issue of defeating Hamas in Gaza, Cohen said, "Our definitions for the end of the war should be that the leadership of Hamas does not control Gaza – whether they are dead, imprisoned or in exile. If they decide to go to Algeria or Qatar, I don't see it as a problem. Hamas has suffered a severe but not yet fatal blow. If they still have six battalions - it is not a fatal blow. If we reach a situation where the fighting stops and six Hamas battalions remain, we will have two problems: They will go wherever they want to control in the future and if an international force or someone else enters, they will encounter the armed battalions."

"It is important to topple the rule of Hamas and also to harm Hamas," explained Cohen. "Today we have two levers that we cannot lose. One - the threat of the strength of the IDF in preparation for the fighting and the conquering of Rafah. Two - the fact that the IDF is at the Netzarim checkpoint and is delaying the entry of people from the south to the north - this is a dramatic lever and we cannot give up these two things before the hostages come home."

Asked what Hamas would consider as a defeat, Cohen replied, "Taking land from them would cause them very serious harm. The second thing is to topple the [Hamas] government. We will probably remain inside the territory until the Hamas rule no longer exists and there will be a security reality, I hope by agreement, in the Philadelphi route in cooperation with the US and with the consent of Egypt."

Cohen commented on the great support among the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria for the brutal massacre by Hamas, saying, "We need to explain to the world that we are dealing with a population that behaves in barbaric and sadistic manners and that giving them a state, also in Judea and Samaria, would be a diplomatic disaster as well as a security catastrophe for us."

He stressed the importance of bringing the hostages home, noting that "I trust the Israeli team and the political echelon." Cohen noted that a deal must not risk the lives of Israeli residents.