|Sinwar, the day Israel let him walk free [Image Source]|
The appointment of Yehiya Sinwar, who was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap, solidifies the takeover of Gaza operations by the armed wing of the group. The military wing, which controls thousands of fighters and a vast arsenal of rockets, has battled Israel in three wars since Hamas seized Gaza a decade ago... Sinwar replaces Ismail Haniyeh, who served as the prime minister of Hamas' government following the 2007 takeover of Gaza. Haniyeh is now expected to take over as Hamas' supreme leader, replacing Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile. Khalil al-Haya, another political hard-liner, was elected as Sinwar's deputy. ["Hamas Names Top Militant as New Leader in Gaza", Associated Press via Bloomberg, February 13, 2017]We're pleased to note that AP's story skips the customary nonsense about the Islamists wanting desperately to create a Palestinian Arab homeland and itching to build more kindergartens, nicer maternity wards and child-friendly museums. Instead:
Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, shootings and other attacks... Gaza is mired in poverty and widespread destruction. International organizations estimate the unemployment rate at over 40 percent, and the movement of people and goods in and out of the war-battered territory remains restricted. [Associated Press]Sinwar was released from Israeli prison in the catastrophic Shalit Deal of 2011, having been arrested on January 21, 1988 and sentenced a year later after being tried in an Israeli court to four life terms for multiple offenses including (according to AP) masterminding the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers.
But a Haaretz profile two days ago reveals that Sinwar (sometimes written Sanwar) was sentenced by Israel
to life in prison in 1989 for the murder of Palestinian [Arabs] suspected of collaboration. His younger brother Mohammed was a commander in the Khan Yunis sector and was involved in the operations in which Shalit was abducted in June 2006, which five years later led to Sanwar’s release. ["Palestinians Freed in Shalit Deal Running the Show for Next Prisoner Swap", Haaretz, February 12, 2017]It goes on to paint a portrait of an unusually vicious personality, even by Hamas' satanic standards:
Palestinians who have met with Sanwar describe him as an extremist, even in the context of his organization, and as someone who speaks in apocalyptic terms about perpetual war with Israel... [For example] the case of Mahmoud Ishtiwi, a Hamas battalion commander in the Gaza neighborhood of Zeitoun who was executed about a year ago. In the past, claims circulated in Gaza about the reasons for his execution, ranging from collaboration with Israel to suspected homosexuality... Ishtiwi’s sister [said] in April 2015, three months after Ishtiwi’s arrest, Sanwar visited the Ishtiwi family at home with Ishtiwi in tow – and Sanwar threatened them with a gun. In February 2016, Ishtiwi was executed... The Hamas leadership said the decision was based on “security and moral reasons.” [An Israeli source however] cites a power struggle within the Hamas military wing. The young battalion commander had accumulated influence and dared to try to undermine Sanwar. So in a highly unusual move, Sanwar decided to get rid of him... [Haaretz]
|Sinwar is kissed in 2011 by the man (Haniyeh) he has replaced in 2017|
is considered to be ascetic, strong, tough and the possessor of extreme discipline. He distances himself from the media, which accounts for one of the reasons why he is less well known in Israel, despite his key role in Hamas.It's especially galling (to us at least) how this sociopath was released from behind Israeli bars five years ago with barely a mention of the risks his unwarranted freedom represented.
For instance: Israel Prison Service records, issued at the time the 1,027 Shalit Deal terrorists walked free and which we have filed away, indicate merely that Sinwar - named there as Yihia Ibrahim Hasan Al-Sinwar, יחיא סנואר אברהים חסן, prisoner ID 955266978 - was serving time for
הריגה ; אימונים בנשק ; פעילות חבלנית עוינת ; הסתהMild language in the context. No hint, in other words, of the man's distinctive malevolence or leadership role. But today, with Sinwar free, unconstrained and ascendant, the expert assessments start to appear.
Manslaughter; weapons training; hostile terrorist activity; incitement
This one for example from the Associated Press piece we cited above:
Kobi Michael, a former head of the Palestinian Desk at Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said Sinwar represents "one of the most radical and extreme lines of Hamas." He described Sinwar as a "bitter enemy" of Egypt who is focused on building Hamas' military capabilities. "The idea that he was elected is a very dangerous and concerning indication of the destabilization of the region," Michael said.A New York Times backgrounder ["Hamas Appoints Hard-Line Militant as Gaza Leader"] quotes Israeli security experts saying Sinwar "had the status of prisoner No. 1" and that he was the "most senior prisoner released, and clearly destined for leadership".
A great pity Israelis weren't told any of this before the Shalit Deal went through and this man was set loose despite the four uncompleted life-terms to which he had been duly sentenced. The prison system surely had some assessments of this thug on its files. They knew him and what the price of letting him loose might entail.
Sinwar comes accompanied with a pair of loyal deputies who likewise are Shalit Deal graduates:
At Israel’s Nafha Prison, Sanwar created a circle of activists who were loyal to him. Two of them, who were released along with Sanwar, are now in key posts in the Hamas security apparatus. Ruhi Mushtaha is in charge of the prisoner portfolio and Tawfik Abu Naim heads the internal security apparatus in Gaza. [Haaretz]As parents of a child whose murderers - several of them - walked free in the catastrophic Shalit transaction, we wonder when its tragic harvest will be more widely acknowledged. It represents a moment of massive misjudgment which, we fear, will haunt Israel and the Jewish people for years to come.
Some background reading:
23-Jan-17: Another Shalit Deal outcome, another life sentence, another bereaved family • 13-Sep-16: Could Israel be about to release convicted terrorists in another deal? • 24-Dec-15: Another terror outrage narrowly averted - and Shalit Deal releasees are again at the heart of the darkness • 11-Dec-15: The price of the Shalit Deal and the countries that help it keep rising • 27-Nov-15: Our daughter won't be with us today as we remember her birthday • 23-Aug-15: Do they understand the price of freeing the hunger-striking terrorists? • “Palestinians freed in Shalit deal killed 6 Israelis since 2014" [Times of Israel, July 20, 2015] • 20-Jul-15: Pausing for a moment to reflect on when we lost our collective senses • 19-Jul-15: Another catastrophic outcome of the 2011 Shalit Deal • 27-Nov-14: Hamas terrorist ring is busted; Israel says the handlers operate from Turkey; Qatar is involved • “Ten lessons the Shalit deal taught us”, Frimet Roth, Times of Israel, October 15, 2014 • 30-Sep-14: Martyrs and monsters • 11-Sep-14: Freeing terrorists: The price in human lives lost and in justice perverted keeps getting clearer • 11-Aug-14: Shalit Transaction revisited: At what point does facing up to the cost of a disastrous decision become unavoidable? • 23-Jun-14: Quietly, inexorably, almost entirely unreported, the lethal consequences of the Shalit Transaction grow • 4-May-14: Who cares about justice? About the victims? About truth? • 16-Apr-14: Capitulating to terrorism and lessons for a people in search of leaders • 18-Mar-14: Most don't understand what's so terribly wrong about freeing convicted terrorists before they complete their lawful prison sentences • 27-Jan-14: Finally, they're starting to quantify the outcomes of the Shalit Transaction • 22-Dec-13: Delving into how those prisoner releases worked out • 18-Oct-13: Two years after the mass release of killers and other terrorists, a cry of pain • 22-Sep-13: Quote of the week: A growing understanding of what the Shalit deal has actually cost us • 27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers • 25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace • 27-Jul-13: To defeat the terrorists, what one thing must a government never do? • 21-Jul-13: In the debate over whether Israel should free convicted terrorists, one key argument is mostly ignored • 13-Jun-13: Little-known sides to the post-Shalit careers of unjustly released killers • 10-Dec-12: The Gilad Shalit transaction continues to haunt and endanger us • 18-Oct-12: The Shalit deal a year later - a personal reflection • 17-Oct-12: Yediot: "Dozens of terrorists released in Shalit deal arrested by Shin Bet during past year" • 10-Jun-12: "Prime Minister Netanyahu: Honor the principles of justice and decency on which our nation is based • 17-Apr-12: Turns out the terrorists freed for Shalit are still doing terrorism. Who would have thought it? • 19-Oct-11: Haaretz: Shalit prisoner swap marks 'colossal failure' for mother of Israeli bombing victim • 18-Oct-11: "The statistical likelihood of more murders in the wake of a mass release of terrorists... is a certainty" • 18-Oct-11: Frimet Roth speaks about our daughter's murderer going free (audio) • 17-Oct-11: "The public has been given a false sense that there were no other options" • 17-Oct-11: Releasing terrorists: "The calculation is based on extortion" • 16-Oct-11: "Do not free my daughter's murderer" (Haaretz today) • 15-Oct-11: From today's NY Times: "This deal is a disaster" • 15-Oct-11: Video: The murderer of our child says: "I don't regret anything" • 20-Jul-11: How the media hijacked the campaign to free Gilad Shalit • 23-Nov-09: On freeing a monster • 22-Jul-08: The once and future child murderer