Israel’s top generals want to begin a cease-fire in Gaza even if it keeps Hamas in power for the time being, widening a rift between the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has opposed a truce that would allow Hamas to survive the war.

The generals think that a truce would be the best way of freeing the roughly 120 Israelis still held, both dead and alive, in Gaza, according to interviews with six current and former security officials.

Underequipped for further fighting after Israel’s longest war in decades, the generals also think their forces need time to recuperate in case a land war breaks out against Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that has been locked in a low-level fight with Israel since October, multiple officials said.

A truce with Hamas could also make it easier to reach a deal with Hezbollah, according to the officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters. Hezbollah has said it will continue to strike northern Israel until Israel stops fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Known collectively as the General Staff Forum, Israel’s military leadership is formed from roughly 30 senior generals, including the military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the commanders of the army, air force and navy, and the head of military intelligence.

The military’s attitude to a cease-fire reflects a major shift in its thinking over the past months as it became more clear that Mr. Netanyahu was refusing to articulate or commit to a postwar plan. That decision has essentially created a power vacuum in the enclave that has forced the military to go back and fight in parts of Gaza it had already cleared of Hamas fighters.

“The military is in full support of a hostage deal and a cease-fire,” said Eyal Hulata, who served as Israel’s national security adviser until early last year, and who speaks regularly with senior military officials.

“They believe that they can always go back and engage Hamas militarily in the future,” Mr. Hulata said. “They understand that a pause in Gaza makes de-escalation more likely in Lebanon. And they have less munitions, less spare parts, less energy than they did before — so they also think a pause in Gaza gives us more time to prepare in case a bigger war does break out with Hezbollah.”

It is unclear how directly the military leadership has expressed its views to Mr. Netanyahu in private but there have been glimpses of its frustration in public, as well as of the prime minister’s frustration with the generals.

Mr. Netanyahu is leery of a truce that keeps Hamas in power because that outcome could collapse his coalition, parts of which have said they will quit the alliance if the war ends with Hamas undefeated.

Until recently, the military publicly maintained that it was possible to simultaneously achieve the government’s two main war goals: defeating Hamas and rescuing the hostages captured by Hamas and its allies during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Now, the military high command has concluded that the two goals are mutually incompatible, several months after generals began having doubts.

Since invading Gaza in October, Israel has overpowered almost all of Hamas’s battalions and occupied most of the territory at some point in the war. But just under half of the 250 hostages taken to Gaza in October remain in captivity, and the high command fears that further military action to free them may run the risk of killing the others.

With Mr. Netanyahu publicly unwilling to commit to either occupying Gaza or transferring control to alternative Palestinian leaders, the military fears a “forever war” in which its energies and ammunition are gradually eroded even as the hostages remain captive and Hamas leaders are still at large. In the face of that scenario, keeping Hamas in power for now in exchange for getting the hostages back seems like the least worst option for Israel, said Mr. Hulata. Four senior officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity agreed.

Asked to comment on whether it supports a truce, the military issued a statement that did not directly address the question. The military is pursuing the destruction of “Hamas’ military and governing capabilities, the return of the hostages, and the return of Israeli civilians from the south and the north safely to their homes,” the statement said.

But in other recent statements and interviews, military leaders have given public hints about what they have privately concluded.

“Those who think we could make Hamas disappear are wrong,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman, said in a television interview on June 19. He said: “Hamas is an idea. Hamas is a political party. It is rooted in people’s hearts.”

To suggest otherwise, Admiral Hagari said in a veiled criticism of Mr. Netanyahu, was to “throw sand in the eyes of the public.”

“What we can do is erect something else,” he said, “something that will replace it, something that will make the population know that someone else is distributing food, someone else is providing public services. Who is that someone, what is that thing — that is for decision makers to decide.”

General Halevi, the chief of staff, has recently tried to play up the military’s achievements, in what some analysts said was an effort to create a pretext to end the war without losing face.

As Israeli troops advanced through the southern Gazan city of Rafah on June 24, General Halevi said that the army was “clearly approaching the point where we can say that we have dismantled the Rafah brigade, that it is defeated. Not in the sense that there are no more terrorists, but in the sense that it can no longer function as a fighting unit.”

The military estimates that it has killed at least 14,000 fighters — the bulk of Hamas’s forces. But officials also believe that several thousand Hamas fighters remain at large, hidden in tunnels dug deep underneath the surface of Gaza, guarding stockpiles of weapons, fuel, food and some hostages.

Mr. Netanyahu’s office declined to comment for this article. In a statement on Monday, he said that Israel was close to “eliminating the Hamas terrorist army,” but stopped short of saying that this would allow Israel to end the war in Gaza.

In a rare television interview in late June, the prime minister dismissed suggestions that the war should end, but acknowledged that the military should draw down its presence in Gaza in order “to move part of our forces to the north.”

According to the military officials, that move is needed to help the army recuperate in case a wider war with Hezbollah does break out, not because Israel is preparing to invade Lebanon imminently. However, other news reports have suggested that Israel may be planning an invasion in the coming weeks.

Nearly nine months into a war that Israel did not plan for, its army is short of spare parts, munitions, motivation and even troops, the officials said.

The war is the most intense conflict that Israel has fought in at least four decades, and the longest it has ever fought in Gaza. In an army largely reliant on reservists, some are on their third tour of duty since October and struggling to balance the fighting with their professional and family commitments.

Fewer reservists are reporting for duty, according to four military officials. And officers are increasingly distrustful of their commanders, amid a crisis of confidence in the military leadership propelled in part by its failure to prevent the Hamas-led attack in October, according to five officers.

More than 300 soldiers have been killed in Gaza, short of what some military officials predicted before Israel invaded the territory. But more than 4,000 soldiers have been wounded since October, according to military statistics, 10 times the total during the 2014 war in Gaza, which lasted for just 50 days. An unknown number of others are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

At least some tanks in Gaza are not loaded with the full capacity of the shells that they usually carry, as the military tries to conserve its stocks in case a bigger war with Hezbollah does break out, according to two officers. Five officials and officers confirmed that the army was running low on shells. The army also lacks spare parts for its tanks, military bulldozers and armored vehicles, according to several of those officials.

All the officers, as well as Mr. Hulata, said that Israel had more than enough munitions to fight in Lebanon if it believed it had no alternative.

“If we’re dragged into a bigger war, we have enough resources and manpower,” Mr. Hulata said. “But we’d like to do it in the best conditions we can. And at the moment, we don’t have the best conditions.”

Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.

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