A former top RAF officer has claimed it is “impossible” for Israel to completely eradicate Hamas, just a day after the first troops arrived in Gaza.

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) personnel have poured into the Palestinian territory this weekend to carry out their “ground operation” through which they plan to “destroy Hamas” and its network of tunnels.

Sean Bell, a former Air Vice Marshal, has warned the IDF’s stated aims aren’t achievable, as Hamas’s military wing has integrated itself with the civilian population.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Bell said the promise to “obliterate” the organisation “makes a great soundbite for the media”.

He said Israel could strip Hamas of some of its capabilities, but the effectiveness of the operation would likely stop there.

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The former official told Andrew Castle the IDF’s publicly stated objective isn’t “very achievable”, but that Benjamin Netanyahu was likely striving to “write down” Hamas’ capabilities.

He said: “You can take out most of its masses, infrastructure, some of its leadership, maybe some of its weapons supplies, but as to its fighters, they will just blend away into the Palestinian population.

“It’s almost certain that that is not an achievable objective, but [the army will] inevitably try to write down that capability as far as they can.

“And that seems to be what Prime Minister Netanyahu is seeking to do.”

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Whatever the aims of Israel in Gaza, the ground operation won’t end any time soon, top officials have said.

Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the country’s ground invasion will likely last for “a long time”.

In a televised press conference on Saturday, October 28, he said Israel’s expanding war with Hamas is a “second war of independence”, telling journalists the country is just starting its assault.

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He told journalists: “In the initial weeks of the war, we launched massive airstrikes that dealt a severe blow to the enemy.

“We eliminated many terrorists. However, we are only at the beginning. The battle within the Gaza Strip will be difficult and long; this is our second war of independence.”

The goal of annihilating Hamas could come at a significant cost to Palestinian civilians, as authorities within the country have warned that 8,000 people have died since Israel commenced its invasion.

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