Ever since Hamas caught Israel and its security forces by surprise during the October 7th massacre, the IDF has demonstrated that it knows how to defeat and destroy the genocidal terrorist organization.
Defeating Hamas was pronounced as Israel's primary goal of the war it now wages in the Gaza Strip because of its importance to the security and safety of millions of Israelis, for regional stability and to impress on Israel's enemies that the Jewish State can win again, and no site or target is off the table.
The region and beyond are watching how Israel fares.
Friends, and potential friends, in the Middle East want to know they are still doing the right thing by betting on Israel as the 'strong horse' and an asset worth making sacrifices to sit alongside.
Foes are seeing how Israel deals with arguably its weakest enemy. Despite the unspeakable horrors perpetrated by its death squads on that dark Saturday, the threat of Hamas does not even come close to that of Hizbullah or the Islamic Republic of Iran.
That is why this war has been described as existential.
The IDF and its reserves displayed immense and gratifying motivation going into Gaza and have shown bravery and ingenuity in achieving the IDF's initial aims.
It encircled Gaza City and went after any and all targets, like hospitals, mosques, wealthy neighborhoods and Hamas-controlled government sites. It showed to the enemy and those who stand behind them that nothing is off limits.
The IDF already has an impressive array of victory images, whether the Golani Brigade in the Hamas-run parliament, destroying a monument to the godfather of Palestinian Arab terrorism, Yasser Arafat, or the steady stream of Gazans on their way from the north to the south waving white flags.
However, the war is still in its infancy. Hamas is clearly damaged and, on the run, but it is far from extinguished.
The fact that Hamas came to the proverbial negotiating table in such haste and lowered its price regarding letting hostages go, shows how much it needs a deal.
While Hamas is demanding the release of some of their prisoners sitting in Israeli jails and some humanitarian gestures, these are smoke screens. The one thing of value to Yahya Sinwar, who appears to be running the negotiations, is time.
Sinwar reportedly warned Israel not to enter the Shifa Hospital and suspended communications for a few days when it did so, but when he saw the IDF control the hospital, he ran back to the negotiating table.
Overwhelming power and force are the only pressure that matters for Sinwar and his ilk.
Hamas had lost its strong hand and the large number of reports of an impending hostage deal testified to that.
Nevertheless, the State of Israel rescued defeat from the jaws of victory and handed back the initiative to the psychopathic Sinwar.
As negotiations were moving agonizingly forward, Israel decided to hold off on its impending offensive to start moving south, ostensibly because of Sinwar's threat to scupper talks.
For days now, the IDF seems to have been in a holding pattern at the mercy of Sinwar's deflections and distractions. He is holding off as long as possible to give him the one thing he craves more than anything else, time, and without having to hand over a single hostage.
The IDF's momentum has been stunted and incredibly the advantage is creeping back towards Hamas.
It should go without saying that freeing the Israelis hostages, brutally ripped from their homes, should be a paramount goal of the operations.
But what should also go without saying, is that the hostages are more likely to be released when Hamas feel their time is running out, when they feel the Israeli boot on their neck.
When they feel that Israel is dithering and returning to type that it will do anything and everything for the mere promise of returning its citizens, Hamas will hold onto them even tighter.
Israel needs to have one goal in mind, and that is to defeat and destroy Hamas as quickly as possible. This is the only way to ensure the safety and security of its nine million citizens, in the short and long term, as the strategic consequences for anything short of a complete and utter victory could have enormous strategic existential ramifications.
It should ignore any and all threats by Hamas because that is when they discern weakness. Our very strong moral code is used by them as a tool to attack Israel, its people, and especially the families of the hostages in a malevolent and disgusting manner.
The best likelihood of freeing hostages is to win this war.
Sinwar has shown that he will continue to fight without care for the bloodshed of Gazans. He is prepared to sacrifice his own people for his cause.
No moral reasoning or demands with such a man are possible. He needs to be forced into a corner until he gives up or is destroyed.
It is only when he understands his impending doom that he will find the flexibility necessary to strike a deal.
Only an Israel victory will win this war, free the hostages and provide the Jewish State with security and stability.
This is what Israel's enemies have long understood. It is time the Jewish State also begins to understand it.
Alex Nachumson is a Major (Res) in the IDF, CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former IDF officers, and an adviser to the Israel Victory Project.