The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared over the weekend that Israel had embarked on the “second stage” of its war against Hamas in Gaza. What did he mean – and is the Israeli government any closer to its objective of “wiping out” Hamas?

While the desire to destroy Hamas is still present, I believe that the goalposts have moved. A combination of American pressure and an Israeli recognition of the operational complexity of a fully fledged ground invasion has pushed the government to narrow its set of objectives, perhaps making them more achievable.

Instead of foolishly trying to uproot Hamas from its network of tunnels and hiding places around Gaza, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) will focus instead on substantially degrading its military capabilities. Reducing and ideally eliminating Hamas’s ability to produce and launch missiles, rockets and armed drones will be the number one priority.

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