​This Situation Assessment was originally published at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies

Disagreements between members of Israel's ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have worsened in recent weeks after Benny Gantz threatened to resign from the War Cabinet if a post-war plan for Gaza was not approved by 8 June. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant had previously announced that he would not agree to Israeli military rule in Gaza after the end of the war, and that he had requested the formation of an alternative to Hamas leadership, but he did not receive a response from the Prime Minister. The matter of the day after the war on the Gaza Strip has become a central point of contention among the Israeli political and military leadership, although the differences extend to other issues such as the prisoner exchange agreement between Israel and Hamas, the issue of appointing senior commanders of the army and security services, and the enactment of the Haredi enlistment law, as well as the formation of inquiries into the security, intelligence, and military failure on 7 October 2023.

Plans for the Day After

Since the beginning of the genocidal war on the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu has adopted the most extreme and aggressive attitude towards the Palestinian people within his government coalition. He called for the displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Sinai, and, despite his failure to achieve it, he made huge political and diplomatic efforts to further this goal.[1] While clinging to his declared goal of eliminating Hamas rule and military capacity in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu refuses to provide a vision for how the war will end, or determine how long it will last in order to prolong the fighting and buy time to improve his popularity. His government was on the brink of collapse at the time of the 7 October attack.  From the outset, Netanyahu has rejected the US vision for the day after in Gaza, which involves the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza after achieving the war aims and the return of a restored Palestinian Authority in place of Hamas. Netanyahu has re-affirmed his rejection of the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and seeks Israeli security control over the Gaza Strip for an indefinite period of time.

As a result of continued pressure to present a vision for the day after the war in the Gaza Strip, applied by both the UA administration and the Israeli military establishment, on 23 February 2024, more than four months into the war, Netanyahu presented his plan for the day after in Gaza in a brief document. It did not explain how or when the war would end.[2] The document indicated that once Hamas' rule and military power had been eradicated in the Gaza Strip, a transitional phase with no specific timeframe will see the Gaza Strip subject to Israeli security control, just as the occupied West Bank. During this phase, Israel will carry out military operations throughout Gaza whenever it wants, build a security wall above and below the ground extending along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and work to end the activity of UNRWA. Reconstruction will only be permitted after Gaza's disarmament and only with the contribution of countries approved by Israel. Regarding civil administration, the document stated that it would be based as much as possible on local individuals not linked to countries or bodies that support "terrorism."[3]

Proposed Direct Military Rule

Given the failure to establish a civil administration made up of local residents in the Gaza Strip as an alternative to Hamas rule, and the regrouping of Hamas in the cities, camps, and towns from which the Israeli army has withdrawn, Netanyahu and his far-right and fascist followers face a huge dispute with the military and security establishment regarding an alternative to Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. The military and security establishment confirmed that the failure to propose an alternative to Hamas rule, plans for which should have already been implemented in order to fill the vacuum left by the Israeli withdrawal, opens a wide field for Hamas to regain control every time the Israeli army withdraws and thus necessitating re-occupation, which the Israeli army cannot continue.

In response, Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, requested a meeting between the military and Netanyahu, in order to develop a comprehensive strategy for managing the ongoing confrontations in the south and on the border with Lebanon in the north as well as future post-war plans for Gaza.[4] But Netanyahu refused to hold this meeting. After that, Brigadier-General Roman Gofman, in a document drawn up in April 2024 and distributed to the members of the Security Cabinet, during his short tenure in COGAT, the unit that coordinates government activities in the [occupied] territories, proposed the establishment of temporary Israeli military rule in the Gaza Strip, as an alternative to Hamas. Netanyahu paid special attention to the document, and as a result appointed Gofman Military Secretary to the Prime Minister.[5]...

Read the full paper at The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies.