Blog 343 March 27, 2017
I am often asked if I foresee a military conflict on the horizon for Israel with the militants. Answering that question correctly is like guessing what outlandish “tweet” we will get next from President Trump. Unpredictability seems to be the new order of the day. However, we can discover a few certainties that are probabilities.
Hamas has just appointed Yahya Sinwar as Gaza’s new leader. He succeeds Khaled Mashaal who has his eyes on taking over the PLO and replacing Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian president. With no specific title, Sinwar will become the de facto head of Gaza. As you may know, the city of Gaza is still little more than a heap of rubble. As for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the election of Sinwar is another nail in the coffin. When Trump and Netanyahu met in February, Trump’s statements only added to the Middle-East chaos.
The Jerusalem Report, March 6, 2017, states that Sinwar knows the Islamist Palestinian movement is under full siege by Israel and Egyptian blockades will continue. As the same time, the rift between the PLO and Hamas is predicted to widen. He will have to work within that framework. Before any military action can occur, Sinwar must collaborate with colleagues in a collective and elaborate process. At this point, columnist Yossi Melman does not believe that Hamas wants a military engagement anywhere in the near future.
And who is Yahya Sinwar?
The former director of both the political arm and the military wing of Hamas, he could be compared to a general. For his murderous terrorist’s acts, Israel sentenced him to four life terms. During his time in prison, he rose to prominence among the Palestinian inmates. From his cell, he communicated with Hamas leaders the idea of using prisoners as “bargaining chips” in prisoner swaps with captured Israeli citizens and soldiers. After 22 years in prison, he was released in the controversial exchange for Gilad Schalit.
Once released, Sinwar told a gathering of 200,000 Gazans that he stood for uncompromising military confrontation with Israel. It now appears he will press for better relations with Iran in hopes of collecting more money and arms. Even in Hamas terms, Sinwar is considered an extremist. Of course, he rejects all attempts at compromise with Israel and the PLO. His election reflects the ascendency of the military wing of Hamas.
Shaul Mishal, an expert in Palestinian politics, believes Sinwar will be a new test for Israel’s political and military leaders. They know he remains more than ready to resort to violence.
Stay tuned. More to come.