Writing in the Financial Times, former US diplomat Richard Haas urged Israel to rethink its Gaza war.
Haas served in the Bush administration during the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Haas said Israel has the right to attack Hamas but destroying the group is "unlikely to prove doable."
A former diplomat who served in the Bush administration and as president of the Council on Foreign Relations has joined a chorus of elite voices urging Israel against launching a full-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Writing in the Financial Times, Richard Haas, who worked as an advisor to former Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2001 to 2003, and then as the United States' special envoy to Northern Ireland, argued that Israel has a right to go after Hamas following its Oct. 7 massacre of more than 1,400 people. Indeed, he said that it meets the criteria of an "obligatory war."
But the right to go after Hamas does not mean all means of doing so are equally desirable, Haas said, cautioning Israel against a maximalist goal of completely eliminating the group. Hass' warning comes after US officials have also begun urging the Israeli government to rethink a ground war, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Israeli government has repeatedly said a ground invasion is only a matter of time. It recently cut off all communication with people in the Gaza Strip, and has begun at least limited incursions in the north of the territory.
A full-on ground war, Haas wrote, would "generate significant civilian casualties" and "allow Hamas to scapegoat Israel for its own shortcomings." Israel, too, would suffer more casualties, its soldiers trapped in a hellish environment of urban warfare that would hurt the country's image and "make it impossible" for it to seek peace with the likes of Saudi Arabia. It could also expand out of control, leading to a regional conflict.
Given how embedded Hamas is in Gaza, have ruled the territory since winning elections in 2006, destroying the group is also "unlikely to prove doable," Haas wrote.
"The good news is that even if destroying Hamas is not possible, it is not essential. To suggest that Hamas poses an existential threat to Israel is overblown. So, too, is the claim that if Hamas survives, Israel will never again be secure," he wrote.
Haas' approach mirrors the advice US officials are reportedly providing: instead of embarking on an unwinnable ground offensive, continue striking Hamas targets from the air — over two weeks of Israeli strikes have killed a number of senior leaders, as well as thousands of civilians — and conducting "targeted ground raids."
"Humanitarian aid should be allowed to flow into Gaza, possibly abetted with pauses in military operations," Haas wrote, casting this as a way to allow Israel alone to decide when those operations conclude. "Far better that Israel be able to declare success and finish what it set out to do than be forced to stop and accept a ceasefire owing to international pressure."
Read the original article on Business Insider