Israel-Hamas War: Latest News – New York Times

The Israeli military said Marwan Issa, deputy commander of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip and the presumed mastermind of the October 7 attack on southern Israel, was killed in an Israeli airstrike earlier this month. It was confirmed.

US official Jake Sullivan previously told reporters that Issa, one of Hamas’s most senior figures, had been killed.But before that Tuesday’s statementThe Israeli military said only that its warplanes targeted Mr. Issa and another senior Hamas official in an underground compound in central Gaza.

Israel’s most wanted man, Issa’s death makes him the oldest Hamas leader to be killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Israeli officials have characterized the attack as a breakthrough in their campaign to wipe out Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.

But experts warned that while Hamas has yet to acknowledge his death, it would not have a devastating effect on the militant group’s leadership. Israel has killed political and military leaders of Hamas in the past, but they were quickly replaced.

Let’s take a closer look at Mr. Issa and what his death means for Hamas and its leadership.

What was Mr. Issa’s role in Hamas?

Mr. Issa, who was 58 or 59 at the time of his death, had been a deputy to Mohamed Deif, the elusive leader of Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, since 2012. Issa took over the role after the assassination of another top commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.

Issa served in both Hamas’ military council and the Gaza political office overseen by Yahya Sinwar, the group’s highest-ranking official in the enclave. Issa is described by Palestinian analysts and former Israeli security officials as a key strategist who played a key role as a liaison between Hamas’ military and political leaders.

Salah al-Din al-Awaudeh, a Palestinian analyst close to Hamas, described Issa’s position within Hamas as “part of the front lines of the military leadership.”

Maj. Gen. Tamir Heyman, former head of Israeli military intelligence, said Issa was simultaneously Hamas’s “minister of defense,” deputy military commander and “strategic mind.”

What does his death mean for the group?

Experts described Mr. Issa as an important associate of Mr. Deif and Mr. Sinwar, but said his death was not a threat to the group’s survival.

“There’s always a replacement,” Awadeh said. “I don’t think the assassination of a member of the military will affect its operations.”

Michael Milshteyn, a former Israeli military intelligence officer and expert on Palestinian issues, acknowledged that while Issa’s death was a significant blow to the Qassam Brigades, it was not “the end of the world” for Hamas.

“He had a lot of experience,” Milstein said. “His death is a big loss for Hamas, but it is not a loss that will lead to its collapse and will not have long-term effects. They will overcome it within a week or two.”

Milstein said that even though Issa’s opinions were valued at the highest levels of Hamas, the fact that he did not directly command fighters meant that his death would not leave a huge hole in Hamas’ operations. He added that it meant.

How is he portrayed?

Issa is a little-known member of Hamas’s upper echelons, keeping a low profile and rarely making public appearances.

Gerhard Konrad, a former German intelligence officer who met Issa more than a decade ago, described him as a “determined and quiet” man without charisma. “He wasn’t very eloquent, but he knew what to say and he was straight to the point,” Conrad said in an interview.

Conrad said he met with Issa, al-Jabari and fellow Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar about 10 times in Gaza City between 2009 and 2011. The men met as part of an effort to broker a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.

“He was a master of data on prisoners,” Conrad said of Issa. “He had all the names to negotiate.”

But Mr. Conrad said it was clear from the time that Mr. Issa was a subordinate of Mr. Aljabari. “He was kind of the chief of staff,” he said.

Issa’s profile rose after al-Jabari’s assassination, but he still kept a low profile. Few images of Mr. Issa are in the public domain.

Analyst Awoude described Issa as someone who prefers to “remain in the shadows” and rarely gives media interviews.

in one of those rare interviews, Issa spoke in 2021 about his role in indirect negotiations that resulted in Israel exchanging more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners of war for one Israeli soldier. Private First Class Gilad Shalit and his hopes for a future conflict with Israel.

“Even if the Palestinian resistance is monitored 24/7 by the enemy, it will surprise the enemy,” he told NDMT at the time.

In another interview with a Hamas publication in 2005, Issa praised the militants who attacked Israeli settlements and military bases, calling their actions “heroic” and “advanced activities.” .

What is known about his early life?

Mr. Issa was born in 1965 in the Breiji district of central Gaza, but his family is from what is now Israel’s Ashkelon district.

Awaoudeh said he had been a member of Hamas for decades, an extremist group that tracks Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel.

Mr. Issa has spent time in prisons run by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli military spokesman Maj. Gen. Daniel Hagari said Mr. Issa helped plan the Hamas-led attack on October 7. Milshtein said Issa also appears to have planned operations aimed at infiltrating Israeli settlements during the second intifada in the 2000s.

Corrections have been made to

March 18, 2024

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A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the former Israeli military intelligence chief’s last name. He’s Tamir Heyman, not Heyman.

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