Photo Credit: Attia Muhammed/Flash90
Yahya Sinwar hosts a meeting with members of terrorist factions in Gaza City, April 13, 2022.

According to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday, Yahya Sinwar recently sent a message to Hamas officials who are in Qatar to talk to Qatari and Egyptian negotiators: “We have the Israelis right where we want them.”

His words callously glorified the loss of innocent lives as a necessary sacrifice for Hamas’ cause.


Sinwar, 62, was serving five life sentences in Israeli security prison not for killing Jews, but for killing Arabs who were suspected of collaborating with Israel. In prison, he was known for his power and influence over the other prisoners, capable of treating opponents and rivals within Hamas with severe violence and cruelty, which gave him the nickname “The Butcher of Khan Younes.” He was also able to forge good relationships with Israeli security personnel and used his close relationship with Ahmed Jabari––the mastermind of the Gilad Shalit deal and consequent prisoner exchange––to secure being included in the exchange deal (1,027 Arab murderers for one IDF Corporal).

Through numerous communications examined by The Wall Street Journal, Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has exhibited a callous indifference to the value of human life and plainly conveyed his belief that Israel stands to suffer greater losses than Hamas from the ongoing conflict. These messages, which Sinwar has relayed to fellow Hamas members outside Gaza, and others, were provided by multiple sources with varying perspectives on Sinwar. In them, he adopts an unsympathetic stance toward civilian casualties and expresses confidence that the costs of the fighting weigh more heavily on the Israeli side.

In one message to Hamas leaders in Doha, Sinwar made a chilling reference to the immense civilian death tolls in national liberation struggles, such as the Algerian war for independence from France, where hundreds of thousands perished. Displaying an alarmingly cavalier attitude, he dismissed these staggering losses of innocent lives as “necessary sacrifices.”

In a letter dated April 11th, addressed to Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh following the deaths of three of Haniyeh’s adult sons in an Israeli airstrike, Sinwar displayed a disturbing lack of empathy. Rather than offering condolences, he coldly proclaimed that their deaths, along with those of other Arabs, would “infuse life into the veins of this nation, prompting it to rise to its glory and honor.”


Sinwar believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a difficult dilemma. If Israel launches a large-scale military operation to overthrow Hamas’s rule in Gaza, it risks becoming embroiled in a prolonged insurgency against two million locals. Yet avoiding such an escalation allows Hamas to maintain its grip on the Strip.

Sinwar predicted this scenario six years ago when he first assumed leadership in Gaza. He acknowledged that while Hamas may lose a direct military confrontation with Israel’s superior forces, an Israeli reoccupation of the densely populated Strip would represent a Pyrrhic victory at best for Netanyahu.

“For Netanyahu, a victory would be even worse than a defeat,” Sinwar told an Italian journalist writing for Yedioth Ahronoth. For him, Israel’s human and political costs of subduing Gaza would outweigh any potential military gains.

But the WSJ report pointed out there was a limit to how far Sinwar was able to predict the outcome of the attack he masterminded. Initially, Sinwar aimed to leverage the hostages as bargaining chips to prevent an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza. He was convinced, based on the stupendous success of the Gilad Shalit exchange that created a psychosis in Israeli society, and forced Netanyahu’s hand in what proved to be a suicidal decision.

A day after Israeli troops entered the strip, Sinwar expressed Hamas’ willingness for an immediate prisoner swap, exchanging their hostages for the release of all the terrorist prisoners held by Israel.

However, Sinwar misjudged Israel’s response. Netanyahu vowed to demolish Hamas and asserted that only military pressure would compel the group to free the hostages, dismissing Sinwar’s proposed deal. It’s true that, as Sinwar predicted, there was a crowd of useful idiots in Israel whose hatred for Netanyahu drove them to demand a repeat of the Gilad Shalit suicidal move. But the vast majority of Israelis, while caring deeply for the hostages and hating the war their country had been dragged into, nevertheless stayed away from the rallies, which drove the useful idiots into bouts of violence, clashing with the police.

Moreover, Sinwar also miscalculated the support Hamas could expect from Iran and Hezbollah. In a November meeting in Tehran with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Hamas’s political chief Haniyeh and his deputy Saleh al-Arouri (no longer walking among us) were informed that Iran backed Hamas, but would not directly intervene.


In a recent communication to his fellow members abroad, Sinwar drew parallels between the ongoing war in Gaza and the 7th-century Battle of Karbala in Iraq, where the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, was killed. “We have to move forward on the same path we started,” Sinwar wrote. “Or let it be a new Karbala.”

The Battle of Karbala took place on Ashura, the 10th of the month of Muharram, October 10, 680.

On one side were the supporters and relatives of Muhammad’s grandson, Hussein, and against them stood a military force sent on behalf of Yazid I, the Umayyad Caliph. The reason for the outbreak of the battle was Yazid’s insistence that Hussein recognize him as the just and undisputed leader of the Islamic nation.

Hussein, who had an honorable family lineage to the Prophet, knew that such recognition on his part would give Yazid’s ambitions great legitimacy. Yazid withheld water and food from Hussein’s people, including women and children, but Hussein still refused to recognize Yazid, and so, Yazid told him that he would die. Hussein chose to die. He and his supporters were killed by Yazid’s forces during the first day of fighting in Karbala. The captive women were tortured and shamed.

The Battle of Karbala is of great importance in the development of Shiite Islam, which has written on its banner the belief that “every day is Ashura (10th of the month of Muharram), every place is Karbala.”

The battle of Hussein son of Ali is commemorated during the first ten days in the month of Muharram every year by the Shiites and culminates on the Day of Ashura, which the Shiites have made one of the most central days in their religion. They cut their heads with razor blades and parade with blood dripping from their faces – it’s a joy.


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