Jabari Deputy Likely to Be Hamas' Next Military Commander

Israeli intelligence expects Marwan Issa will be new de-facto head of Hamas' military wing, after Ahmed Jabari was killed in an Israeli air strike.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Israeli intelligence expects the new de-facto head of Hamas' military wing to be Marwan Issa, who served as deputy to the organization's former de-facto leader, Ahmed Jabari.

Jabari was killed in an Israeli air strike at the start of Operation Pillar of Defense about 10 days ago. Officially, Hamas' military wing is led by Mohammed Def, but he has been unable to take up the reins in practice since he was seriously wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt in 2005.

As Jabari's right-hand man, Issa was involved in every important decision made by Hamas' military wing, including the capture of soldier Gilad Shalit and the negotiations over his release. Issa, one of the few people allowed to visit Shalit during his five-year captivity, essentially served as Jabari's operations officer and was responsible for numerous terror attacks.

In February 2005, he organized an attack on a Gaza prison controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Dozens of armed men assaulted the prison, killing three prisoners. The goal was to extract two members of Fatah, Hamas' rival, who were accused of murdering a relative of Issa's. After nabbing the two men, Hamas forces summarily executed them.

Issa followed that up with mortar-shell fire on southern Israel, after which he issued a press statement saying the attack was in retaliation for the assassination of two Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinians in Gaza say that, unlike Jabari, Issa almost never appears in public, doesn't meet with journalists and avoids the cameras of the press.

In August 2006, he was wounded in an Israeli assassination attempt, but survived.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah congratulated Hamas on Friday for what he termed a victory over Israel, the Lebanese television network Al-Manar reported on its website.

"[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu did not put high goals for this war. He rather put low goals so that he would achieve them and announce his victory, but even these he failed to achieve," Nasrallah said, adding, "If you failed to win a war against Gaza, which has been under siege, what would be the case if you engage yourself in a war with someone else?"

A Hamas militant talks in front of a picture of Ahmed Jabari during a press conference in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.Credit: AP

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