Israeli military vows to pursue Hamas ‘wherever it goes’ after Rafah operation

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said he expects Hamas to relocate and try to rebuild its capabilities even after the Rafah offensive in southern Gaza is complete.

Israel’s military is warning that the current operation against Palestinian militants in Rafah will not spell the end of Hamas, vowing to continue its pursuit of the Islamist group wherever it attempts to regroup after the fighting.

In an interview published in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said he expects Hamas to relocate and try to rebuild its capabilities even after the Rafah offensive in southern Gaza is complete.

“I want to tell the public so that they do not delude themselves: Even after we deal with Rafah, there will be terror,” Hagari stated. “Hamas will move northwards and try to reconstitute itself, even in the next few days.”

The spokesman’s comments came as Israeli forces pressed ahead with their operation in Rafah aimed at destroying Hamas military tunnels and infrastructure. The offensive has led to intense fighting and a mounting Palestinian civilian death toll that has drawn international condemnation.

While stressing that Israel has dealt Hamas’ military wing a “harsh blow” in Rafah, Hagari made clear the military expects the Islamist group to remain an ongoing threat that will require further military action.

He issued a warning that wherever Hamas resumes operations, such as in northern and central Gaza, they would also resume operating.

Hagari said Hamas has already begun efforts to regroup in other areas of the coastal territory not currently the focus of Israeli ground operations. He accused the militants of using civilian areas and infrastructure to plan attacks and rebuild underground tunnels.

Israel’s military will be ready to expand operations beyond Rafah based on ongoing intelligence about Hamas movements, Hagari added, in what could potentially prolong the four-week conflict.

The comments suggest Israel may be preparing for broader confrontations with Hamas even after the current Rafah mission is completed, rather than winding down military activities in Gaza.

Hamas has vowed to continue its rocket fire on Israeli cities and to confront any Israeli ground invasion no matter how long the fighting lasts. The group has been buoyed by continued weapons and cash flows from backers like Iran and Qatar.

The apparent Israeli determination to keep pursuing Hamas in Gaza could complicate international cease-fire efforts being led by Egypt, the U.S., and others. Previous temporary truces have been repeatedly violated within hours or days by renewed violence from both sides.