Destroying Hamas would only lead to something more dangerous taking its place, a top Pentagon intelligence official warned on Saturday, as he offered a grim portrait of a period of enduring regional conflict.

The remarks by Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn, the outgoing head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, came as Israeli ministers signalled that a comprehensive deal to end the 20-day-old conflict in the Gaza Strip appeared remote.

Flynn disparaged Hamas for exhausting finite resources and know-how to build tunnels that have helped them inflict record casualties on Israelis. Still, he suggested that destroying Hamas was not the answer.

“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” Flynn said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

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