Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Hamas senior leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar attends a rally in Gaza City celebrating the Islamist movement's 31st anniversary, Dec. 16, 2018.

(JNS) Hamas senior leader Yahya Sinwar’s days “are numbered,” a senior Biden administration official said on Thursday, pledging that “justice will be served.”

Coinciding with a visit to the region by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the official, who spoke to reporters for 35 minutes from a car in Tel Aviv, said: “I think it’s safe to say his days are numbered,” of Sinwar. “He has American blood on his hands.”


The official spoke on “background” and could not be named.

Sinwar, who runs the Hamas terror operation in the Gaza Strip, is part of a group of Hamas higher-ups that planned the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre in Israel.

Sullivan visited Israel on Thursday, meeting twice with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with a meeting with Israel’s full War Cabinet sandwiched between the two.

He also met individually with Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and War Cabinet member and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Sullivan’s meeting with Mossad director David Barnea stretched from one hour to two, focusing on the hostage situation in Gaza.

Sullivan’s trip to Israel comes amid vocal frustration from Biden and others about the growing civilian death toll in Gaza amid Israel’s operation to root out Hamas terrorists. The latter hide and operate among civilians, as well as below ground.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Tel Aviv, Dec. 14, 2023.

The senior official said that the second meeting between Sullivan and Netanyahu focused on expectations “as we move through the course of the coming weeks or towards the end of the year, and into the early part of January.”

Overall, the two talked about the humanitarian situation, military campaign strategy and threats from Iran’s other regional proxies, including the Houthis and Hezbollah, the official said.

The official disputed the accuracy of multiple media reports that the Biden administration is instructing Israel to wind down its operation in Gaza in the coming weeks. The official said the White House is more concerned with the intensity of the assaults of the Israel Defense Forces and less so with particular timeframes.

“I know there’s been some reporting on timeframes, and I just have to say that it’s just not entirely accurate,” the official said. “The Israelis have briefed us on kind of its thinking of potential timeframes, and Jake had a very good discussion about the kind of conditions that, obviously, we all hope to be set.”

U.S. and Israeli officials are focusing on a shift from high-intensity operations to high-value targets in a lower-intensity environment, the official emphasized.

“Heavy discussions” were held on Israel’s need to protect Gazan civilians; the humanitarian situation in Gaza was a focal point.

‘Had quite constructive conversations’

The Biden administration has been pushing Israel to focus more on the future of Gaza and what will happen there once Hamas is no longer in power. The White House’s stated preference is for a “revamped, revitalized” Palestinian Authority to resume the control it lost to Hamas in 2007. Netanyahu is insistent that the P.A. will play no part in a post-Hamas leadership role in Gaza.

The senior official on Thursday dodged a question about what exactly would define a revitalized P.A., which is largely seen as broken and corrupt. Sullivan is set to meet on Friday with P.A. officials, focusing on maintaining a measure of stability in Judea and Samaria.

The official insisted there is a role for the P.A. in a future Gaza.

“There are a number of security personnel linked to the Palestinian Authority, which we think might be able to provide some sort of a nucleus in the many months that follow the overall military campaign,” the official said. “But this is something we’re discussing with the Palestinians, and with the Israelis and with regional partners. It very much remains a work in progress.”

Regardless of the exact security structure, the Israeli government is adamant that the Biden administration’s insistence on revving up a pathway to a two-state solution, especially in light of the atrocities that occurred on Oct. 7, is a non-starter.

The U.S. official said on Thursday that conversations in Jerusalem have touched on what might be a potential alternative in the Israelis’ minds.

“I think we’ve actually had quite constructive conversations about where this heads,” said the official.

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