In late August, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas political leader in the Gaza Strip, shared a marathon five-hour presentation with a group of Arab writers on his new strategy for a long-term truce with Israel, which he planned to reach by mid-October. If the Israelis lift the blockade, Hamas would end the rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza, The Telegraph reported in a lengthy profile article on Wednesday (Why hardline Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is gambling on an unlikely truce with Israel).
But if an agreement was not reached, Sinwar said, Hamas would cause chaos with mass protests at the Israeli-Gaza border. As an analyst who was at the meeting put it: “If there is no deal he made it clear that Hamas will turn the table upside down on the heads of everyone. The Israelis, the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptians, everyone. Everyone is going to suffer.”
Sinwar is hoping that his threats of mass protests and fire kites from Gaza will be enough to bring Israel to the negotiating table without starting an all-out war, according to The Telegraph. But an Israeli official told the newspaper no one believes Sinwar has suddenly become a man of peace or has given up Hamas’ mission o destroy the Jewish state. “Sinwar is in the front row of terrorists who want Israel gone,” said the Israeli official. “But he is a very patient person and he understands that for the time being Israel is not going anywhere. He is willing to postpone his vision and deal with the reality.”
Sinwar spent 22 years in Israeli prisons, serving out four life sentences for killing suspected collaborators. He was 27 when he was jailed and 49 when he was released, as part of the prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit (what a clever idea that was).
Sinwar learned Hebrew in jail and was an avid reader of Yedioth Ahronoth. He still reportedly reads Israeli news in Hebrew online. Having become a senior Hamas leader behind bars, Sinwar was one of the terrorist inmates’ chief negotiators in talks with the Israelis, and during the Shalit deal he was responsible for compiling lists of prisoners from all factions who would be released, The Telegraph reported.
“Ultimately, it will be the people of Gaza who will pay the price if Sinwar miscalculates and another devastating war comes crashing down on the isolated enclave,” The Telegraph concluded. “In the streets of Gaza City, people said they supported his effort to make a deal with Israel and would support almost anything to finally ease their 11 years of suffering.”