Mar. 22, 2016
- A New Hardline Leader for Hamas – Avi Issacharoff
Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal is no longer the sole decision-maker in Hamas when it comes to Gaza. A new leader, Yahya Sinwar, has emerged in Gaza. A charismatic man, Sinwar is leading an intensifying challenge to Mashaal’s leadership. While Mashaal stays in luxury hotels in the Gulf states, Sinwar lives in the Khan Yunis refugee camp. He spent 22 years in Israeli prisons until released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner-exchange deal and is considered a radical hardliner who inspires the loyalty of Hamas’ military wing.
Sinwar’s release wrought a change in the structure of the entire leadership. One of the founders of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military brigades, Sinwar began asserting himself as Hamas’ Number One man in Gaza. Members of the military wing have kept in close contact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and continue to receive funding through various channels.
Hamas’ military wing is pursuing an independent policy toward Islamic State personnel in Sinai. Transferring wounded members of IS for medical treatment in Gaza, digging tunnels into Egypt, moving arms and ammunition to Sinai, and training Islamic State fighters are all taking place as an organized project of the military wing, with the knowledge of Yahya Sinwar, but without the consent of the political wing in Gaza or of Mashaal in Qatar. (Times of Israel )