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Officials say that US intelligence indicates that Sinwar believes that Hamas has the upper hand in negotiations with Israel


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Adel Hanna/AFP/File

In this photo taken in April 2022, Yahya Sinwar greets his supporters during a meeting with Palestinian faction leaders in his office in Gaza City.


US intelligence officials believe so Yahya Al-Sanwarthe powerful Hamas leader in Gaza who is believed to be the group’s main decision-maker on any potential ceasefire agreement, likely believes the group can survive Israel’s attempt to destroy it and feels confident that it is well placed to enter the negotiations from somewhere of strength, According to US officials familiar with the latest assessments.

These sources say that Hamas’ goal is to survive, and this would be a victory for the group. Sinwar likely believes that Hamas is able to hold out while Israel’s global standing deteriorates as the situation deteriorates The war in GazaWhich led to the killing of thousands of civilians, is still ongoing.

“He thinks he’s winning,” a senior Biden administration official said bluntly.

For American negotiators seeking to reach a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel, this is a discouraging assessment. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the families of American hostages held in Gaza at a meeting in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning that the fate of the latest proposal rests with Sinwar.

While the United States is pressuring those with influence over Hamas to push the movement to accept the deal, Blinken made clear on Tuesday that the United States believes Sinwar is the final decision-maker.

“I think there are those who influenced, but influence is one thing, and actually making the decision is another thing. “I don’t think anyone other than the Hamas leadership in Gaza is actually the one who can make the decisions,” Blinken said, adding: “This is what we are waiting for.” .

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If Sinwar believes the group can withstand an Israeli invasion, it means he does not yet feel enough pressure to reach an agreement that ends the fighting — even as Palestinian civilians continue to die.

the The Wall Street Journal reported On Tuesday, Sinwar described their deaths as “necessary sacrifices” in letters reviewed by the newspaper.

“We have the Israelis where we want them.” Sinwar told the political leadership of Hamas In the Gulf state of Qatar recently, according to one of the messages. The date of the letter is unclear, but it indicates that Sinwar is pressing for the conflict to continue.

US officials have publicly sought to portray Sinwar as callous toward the killing of Palestinian civilians and concerned only with his own survival.

“It should come as a shock to no one that Mr. Sinwar has no concern at all for the lives of innocent Palestinians caught up in this war, the war he started.
“It should not surprise or shock anyone that a monster like Mr. Sinwar would rejoice in it and see merit in it,” John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told reporters on Tuesday.

Officials believe Sinwar, who was one of the main planners of the October 7 attack, remained at large in the vast tunnel area hidden under Gaza, moving frequently and perhaps surrounded by hostages as human shields.

The US intelligence community has struggled to track him down, according to a source familiar with the intelligence.

But he continues to push Hamas’ negotiating positions, and letters often take days to reach him, slowing down the process.

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Both Sinwar and senior Hamas military official, Muhammad Deif, are still alive. Even if Israel kills 15,000 Hamas fighters, as it claims, this means that nearly half of the group’s fighting force is still on the battlefield.

Sinwar, a long-time figure in the Palestinian Islamic movement, was responsible for building Hamas’s military wing before establishing important new ties with regional Arab powers as the group’s civilian and political leader.

He was elected to the main political bureau of Hamas in 2017 as the political leader of Hamas in Gaza. However, he has since become the de facto leader of the Politburo, according to research by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Regional polls – while flawed – suggested that Hamas had become unpopular in Gaza before the October 7 attack, and some analysts suggested that the group may have launched the operation in part to try to garner some domestic support.

Blinken said that Hamas’ response to the proposal will reveal the movement’s priorities.

Blinken said: “We are waiting for the response from Hamas, and this will reveal to us a lot about what they want, what they are looking for, and who they care about.” “Are they taking care of one person who might be safe right now… while the people he claims to represent are still suffering in the crossfire of his own making? Or will he do what is necessary to actually move this to a better place, to help end people’s suffering and to help achieve real security for Israelis and Palestinians alike?

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