Hamas Installs Yahya Sinwar as Leader in Gaza

Ramadan El-Agha/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Hamas Installs Yahya Sinwar as Leader in Gaza

Hamas has elected a literal killer with violent views to lead the Gaza Strip into conflict against Israel.

“Is War With Israel on the Horizon With Hamas’s New Gaza Leader?” was the title of the Jerusalem Post’s report on this week’s election of Yahya Sinwar to the highest office in the Gaza Strip. The election inside the Hamas terrorist organization replaces Ismail Haniyeh with Sinwar as the undisputed leader of the territory. While Hamas operatives are notoriously brutal, Sinwar may be one of the most ruthless to ever rule Gaza.

According to the Post:

Sinwar is the first Hamas leader to be selected for this post from the military wing. In Israeli terms, he can be compared to a former general, with a strong background and leaning toward the military, who is appointed as a political leader.

In order to effectively and quickly find, condemn and eliminate suspected collaborators with the Israeli government, Sinwar received a fatwa from Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The fatwa granted him the ability to execute anyone who confessed without a formal trial. During this period, Sinwar became known as “the Man of the Twelve,” a reference to the 12 suspected collaborators he murdered with his own hands.

He was eventually captured and tried by an Israeli military court in 1989, which sentenced him to four life sentences. The Post wrote:

Inside the walls of the jail, he rose into prominence among Palestinian inmates in general and those affiliated with Hamas in particular. Within a decade, he became the undisputed leader of the thousands of Hamas inmates in Israeli jails. From his cell, he communicated with the commanders of the military wing and demanded the kidnapping of Israeli civilians and soldiers to be used as bargaining chips in prisoner swaps.

After receiving life-saving cancer treatment while in prison, Sinwar was released back to the Gaza Strip through just such a prisoner swap. He was part of the highly controversial 2011 deal, which exchanged 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. However, as an example of his no-compromise approach toward Israel, Sinwar actually argued against the specific deal that led to his own freedom. He regarded the terms of the deal as surrendering to Israel’s conditions. He said he was willing to remain in prison in order to get even more Palestinians released.

Sinwar’s 22 years in prison did not moderate his views. Israel’s weakness in allowing such a deal only emboldened Sinwar. Immediately following his release, he delivered a rousing speech before 200,000 Gazans, demanding a military onslaught on Israel. He espoused a new approach whereby Hamas would “take the battles into the enemy’s side”—which the Post says was the beginning of the terror tunnel strategy.

(Sinwar’s speech and celebration following his return to Gaza on Oct. 18, 2011)

Now Sinwar has risen through the most violent contingent of Hamas to now hold the highest political position in Gaza, which also reveals how powerful the military wing of Hamas has become inside the Gaza Strip. The Post wrote:

It is now apparent that the military wing is cementing itself as the dominant force of the movement, which has touted itself as an alternative to the [Palestinian Liberation Organization] plo and the Palestinian Authority. And since the military wing is more interested in building an army and less interested in developing social welfare and political institutes, its “nation-building” will be less important.

Given Sinwar’s position, it’s unlikely he will be willing to compromise at all with an Israeli government. There are already reports that Sinwar intends to reach out further to Iran to provide Hamas with military hardware and funding needed to begin another offensive against Israel.

The increased funding from Iran, in conjunction with Sinwar’s charismatic leadership, could very well increase Hamas’s popularity, not just inside the Gaza Strip, but also among Palestinians in the West Bank territory. Given the dismal approval ratings of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which is currently in charge of the West Bank, this is very likely.

The Trumpet has forecast for the past decade that Hamas would indeed rise to prominence, not just in the Gaza Strip, but specifically in the West Bank. Continue to watch as Hamas strengthens its power base in Gaza and entrenches itself in the larger territory of the West Bank. For more details on Hamas’s role in end-time events, please read “The Coming Arab Takeover of East Jerusalem.”