Hamas in Gaza elects ‘Yahya al-Sinwar’ as chief, a man believed to support a harder line against Israel

The Islamist Hamas organization, which rules the Palestinian enclave, elected a new leader. Yahya al-Sinwar, who was freed from an Israeli prison in 2011, as part of the Gilad-Shalit swap deal, was elected the new Hamas chief in the Palestinian strip. “It is an indescribable feeling, in all honesty,” said Sinwar who will now be a key decision-maker for Hamas and a member of the executive leadership that draws up the organization’s policies, including toward Israel.  ”I think that we will see further development of Hamas’s organizational structure in the next stage, as well as development of fighting devices, whether it is on a military level or political level. Sinwar is a pragmatic personality who aspires to have an open mind to have relations with the Arab world including Egypt, Iran,” said Hamza Abu Shanab, Gaza Political Analyst.

Yahya Sinwar, who was the most senior person released in the Shalit deal, was the head of Hamas’ intelligence apparatus, whose main job was to execute Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, and was one of the founders of the organization’s military wing. He himself murdered a number of Palestinians for allegedly cooperating with Israel after which he was arrested and imprisoned by the Jewish state. His younger brother, Mohammed Sinwar, is the commander of the Khan Yunis Brigade of Hamas’s military wing and was one of the architects of the operation that resulted in Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping. Immediately after the release of Yahya Sinwar, as part of the Shalit deal, the newly elected Hamas chief made it clear that the only way to bring about the release of Palestinian prisoners left behind was by more kidnappings of Israelis. The election of Sinwar raises concerns among many residents of Gaza, whom stressed that they are not ready for another war with Israel, and hope that their newly elected leader would pursue a more diplomatic path. 

“As a leader he should calculate correctly and try to come up with strategic plans, to come up with solutions and negotiations, such as the exchange of prisoners or any other plan, because if he’s taking Gaza to a new war, then Gaza’s not ready at all. The people are not ready at all. Enough horror, enough wars, enough bloodshed,’’ said Sahar Abu Daya, Gaza Resident. Senior Israeli security experts informed TV7 that they believe the newly elected Hamas chief would support a harder line against Israel that could lead to a new round of fighting between the internationally recognized terror group and the Jewish state.