Said Sayyam and Salah Abu Shreich, two senior Hamas figures, were killed in an air strike in Jabaliya. The home of another Hamas leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, is surrounded. Infantry, armor and special forces are operating in the center of the city, very close to the Hamas "security quarter" southwest of the city, where most of the command and control centers of the group are situated.
Even in the center of the city, Hamas gunmen are opting to avoid direct encounters with the IDF. In most cases they are choosing to escape along with thousands of civilians. The Hamas announcement in Cairo two days ago began the countdown toward a cease-fire.The army sensed Hamas' weakness when units left their defensive positions in the Zeytun neighborhood. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi approved the assault and forces reached the center of the city through the gap. On the way, the IDF killed most of the members of a unit comprising militants trained by Iran.
The latest move has is risks. The IDF is constantly concerned that a single mistake may lead to mass killing of Palestinian civilians, or a surprise attack by Hamas that may affect public opinion in Israel.
Hamas-Gaza may try for one more dramatic round, but as of now, it is close to collapse. This does not mean the end of Hamas, but in combination with an effective diplomatic settlement, it implies a significant improvement in Israel's position. The civilian population of Gaza will remember Israel's cruel campaign; however, the Palestinians will also remember the sight of Hamas fighters fleeing before the advancing Israeli forces. Hamas has indubitably been weakened, and in the long term, its shortcomings in this war will make the organization more hesitant about launching attacks on Israel.
As Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff argue, it would be best for Israel to leave a diminished Hamas in power rather than destroying all central authority in Gaza. The key to a post-war settlement will be to involve the Egyptians in a reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. B