Israel has openly declared that two leaders of Hamas, Mohamed Deif, the head of the military wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and Yahya Sinwar, the political chief of the movement in the Gaza Strip, are its top targets following the bloody attack on October 7. Israel has threatened to kill all militants associated with the group ruling Gaza, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating, “Every member of Hamas is a dead man.”
Deif and Sinwar have been the targets of numerous assassination attempts and have spent time in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons. Since the recent attack, they have been hiding in the network of tunnels and underground shelters in Gaza. Sinwar, at 61, is considered the “face of evil” by Israel and was released in 2011 along with 1,000 other Palestinians in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. On the other hand, Deif, known as “the guest” in Arabic due to his ability to never sleep in the same place for more than one night, has survived multiple assassination attempts and has been the leader of Hamas’s military wing since 2002.
While eliminating Sinwar and Deif would severely weaken Hamas, experts suggest the group likely has contingency plans in place for their loss. The situation in Gaza remains tense as Israel continues its siege and daily airstrikes, causing thousands of deaths and leaving the civilian population in an extremely vulnerable situation.