Photo: AP
Hamas trifecta
Photo: AP
Haniyeh's election brings Hamas military wing closer to decision making
Analysis: Haniyeh's presence in the Gaza Strip and his close relationship with the leaders of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades brings the armed wing of the terror organization closer than before to the decision making process.
Hamas in Gaza has entered the era of Ismail Haniyeh, with old-new leadership and a significant boost to the military wing's power at the decision-making table after two decades of overseas leadership.



The combination of Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, who was elected as Hamas leader in Gaza three months ago, is expected to strengthen the weight given to Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif and other senior members of the military wing.


After filtering out the belligerent rhetoric, Haniyeh is considered a pragmatic leader who won't rush to launch an open armed conflict against Israel. The fact that he is a resident of the Gaza Strip means he is familiar with the implications of any significant round of fighting in the Palestinian enclave. After all, it is much easier to give the green light to fight from the pampered hotels of Doha than from the Shati refugee camp.


Ismail Haniyeh, new-old leader of Hamas (Photo: Reuters) (Reuters)
Ismail Haniyeh, new-old leader of Hamas (Photo: Reuters)


However, at the same time, Haniyeh will not be able to ignore the pressure that the military wing might exert on him through the aggressive Sinwar, who does not hesitate to use force and does not usually ask his superiors for their opinion.


Former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal became acquainted with this fact when Sinwar decided to kill Mahmoud Shatiwi, who was the commander of the Zeitoun Brigade of Hamas' military wing, without Mashaal's opinion or approval.


Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza (Photo: AP, EPA) (Photo: AP/EPA)
Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza (Photo: AP, EPA)


Sinwar himself founded the al-Majid apparatus, which later became part of Hamas' military wing and is responsible for exposing "collaborators" with Israel and executing them. Sinwar himself is believed to have killed 10 collaborators.


In addition to Sinwar, Haniyeh will also need to contend with Mohammed Arman, who was elected the leader of Hamas in Israeli prisons.


Arman, 42, was born in Kharbatha Bani Harith near Ramallah. He joined Hamas' military wing in 2001 during the al-Aqsa intifada, serving as liaison between the organization and the Silwan Cell, which carried out attacks in Café Moment in Jerusalem, the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University and the Sheffield Club in Rishon Letzion.


Mohammed Arman, head of Hamas in Israeli prisons
Mohammed Arman, head of Hamas in Israeli prisons


Arman was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 36 life sentences. During his sentencing, Arman said, "This is not murder, and we are not sorry. This is our struggle against the occupation." Israel refused to release him during the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap.


In addition to Sinwar and Arman, Haniyeh will also work with the head of Hamas in the West Bank and an overseas leader, both of whose identities are kept secret for fear of their lives.


(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)


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