Israeli Generals Urge Ceasefire With Hamas, Citing Resource Constraints and Lebanon Concerns

The IDF doesn’t have enough troops or ammo to fight in Gaza and Lebanon simultaneously, officials have told the New York Times

According to a report in the New York Times, a significant number of senior Israeli military leaders are urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure a ceasefire with Hamas. This move, they argue, would allow them to prepare for a potential conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As Israel’s war with Hamas approaches its ninth month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have experienced significant losses, including dwindling supplies of artillery shells. Furthermore, over 120 Israelis remain captive in Gaza, some of whom are unaccounted for. Hamas forces have resurfaced in areas of Gaza previously cleared by the IDF. Netanyahu has yet to publicly declare whether Israel intends to occupy Gaza after the conflict or hand the territory over to a Palestinian government.

The report states that the 30 senior generals who comprise Israel’s General Staff Forum are advocating for a ceasefire with Hamas, even if it means leaving the militant group in control of Gaza. The generals’ reasoning, based on information from six current and former security officials, centers around the need for time to rest their troops and replenish ammunition, crucial in the event of a potential ground war with Hezbollah. They also view a ceasefire as the most effective way to secure the release of the remaining hostages, a stance that contradicts Netanyahu’s insistence that only a complete victory over Hamas would bring the hostages home.

“The military is in full support of a hostage deal and a ceasefire,” former Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata told the newspaper. 

“They believe that they can always go back and engage Hamas militarily in the future,” he continued. “They understand that a pause in Gaza makes de-escalation more likely in Lebanon. And they have less munitions, less spare parts, less energy than they did before – so they also think a pause in Gaza gives us more time to prepare in case a bigger war does break out with Hezbollah.”

Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed political movement and paramilitary force, became involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict in October. The group has engaged in a limited campaign of retaliatory drone and missile strikes on northern Israel, which leader Hassan Nasrallah explained in November was aimed at tying up Israeli forces near the border to prevent their deployment to Gaza.

Netanyahu announced last month that he would withdraw some IDF units from Gaza and reposition them to the Lebanese border, fueling fears of an impending invasion of Lebanon. These concerns escalated last week when Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a warning that the IDF was “preparing for every scenario” and could take “Lebanon back to the Stone Age.”

The US has reportedly expressed concerns about initiating even a “limited war” in Lebanon, while Iran has stated that it would “support Hezbollah by all means” in such a conflict.

The Israeli military has not publicly endorsed a ceasefire in Gaza. In a statement to the New York Times, the IDF said it was still working towards the destruction of “Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, the return of the hostages, and the return of Israeli civilians from the south and the north safely to their homes.” Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the report.