Internet InfoMedia israel hamas war in gaza leaves power vacuum
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Analysts say the Israeli military’s return to the largest hospital complex in the enclave may foretell more chaos without governance.

Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has repeatedly spoken of the need to topple Hamas but has done little to address the power vacuum that would leave — especially after Israeli forces withdraw.

That is already apparent in Gaza City, where a deadly battle at the territory’s largest hospital complex stretched into a third day on Wednesday, after the Israeli military said the re-emergence of Hamas fighters had forced it to return to a site it first stormed in November.

The military said on Wednesday that it had killed dozens of militants in the operation at Al-Shifa Hospital and questioned or arrested hundreds of people, while Hamas has said that it caused “deaths and injuries” to Israeli forces; neither account could be independently confirmed. The crossfire has endangered displaced people seeking shelter on the grounds, along with medical teams, patients and nearby residents.

Former Israeli security officials are split on how to address the growing anarchy in northern Gaza, but many agree that until the government has a detailed, workable plan for how the enclave will be governed and made secure, it will be impossible to chart a path toward a more stable future. And they said Mr. Netanyahu should have long since developed such a plan.

“It’s a huge mistake” not to have a governing plan now, said Gen. Gadi Shamni, a retired commander of the Gaza division of the Israeli Defense Forces. “It might take months or even years to create a successful alternative, but we need to start moving things in that direction.”

Gazans on Wednesday mourned Palestinians killed in a strike in Gaza City.Dawoud Abu Alkas/Reuters

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