Yahya Sinwar: Elusive Hamas Leader Outwitting Israel

Yahya Sinwar: From Gaza War Instigator to Key Player in Peace Negotiations

Yahya Sinwar, a prominent figure in the recent Gaza conflict, was once dubbed a “dead man walking” by Israeli leaders following the attack by Hamas on Israel in October. He was considered the mastermind behind the raid, making his assassination a high priority for Israel in their counterattack. However, seven months later, Sinwar’s survival is seen as a testament to Israel’s failures in the war.

Despite the destruction in Gaza, Hamas’s top leadership remains largely intact. Moreover, many hostages taken during the October attack are still held captive. As the war progresses, Sinwar has emerged as both a resilient commander and a savvy negotiator. He has managed to prevent an Israeli victory on the battlefield while still participating in indirect negotiations with Israeli envoys to release the remaining hostages.

Sinwar’s Influence on Hamas Negotiations

Although Israeli officials are still seeking his death, they have found themselves having to negotiate with him. Even though these negotiations are mediated in Egypt and Qatar, Sinwar’s approval is necessary before Hamas’s negotiators agree to any concessions.

Despite not having final authority over Hamas’s decisions, Sinwar’s leadership role in Gaza and his forceful personality have given him significant influence within the group. “There’s no decision that can be made without consulting Sinwar,” according to Salah al-Din al-Awawdeh, a Hamas member and political analyst.

Sinwar’s Strategy

As the architect of the October attack, Sinwar designed a strategy that would inevitably provoke a strong Israeli response. However, according to American and Israeli intelligence agencies, Sinwar is primarily motivated by a desire to take revenge on Israel and weaken it, with the well-being of the Palestinian people seeming secondary to him.

Israeli and Western officials have found Sinwar to be both a brutal adversary and an adept political operator throughout these negotiations. They believe Sinwar is using his knowledge of Israeli culture and society, which he acquired during his time in an Israeli prison, to increase pressure on Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Continuation of War

Israeli and U.S. intelligence officers suggest that Sinwar’s strategy is to prolong the war as much as possible to damage Israel’s international reputation and its relationship with its primary ally, the United States. This strategy seems to be paying off, as Israel has recently faced strong criticism from President Biden.

Unity Within Hamas

Despite some disagreements within the Hamas leadership, members have projected an image of unity, downplaying Sinwar’s personal role in decision-making. However, Sinwar’s force of personality sets him apart, according to his friend and fellow prison inmate, Mr. al-Awawdeh. He suggests that other leaders might not have initiated the October attack, preferring to focus on governance matters instead.

As the Gaza conflict continues to unfold, Sinwar remains a key player in both the war and the ongoing negotiations. His influence within Hamas and his strategic approach to negotiations are likely to shape the outcome of this conflict. His survival and continued influence are a testament to his resilience and cunning, marking him as a significant figure in this tumultuous period of Middle-Eastern history.