Egypt Blocked Israeli Plan to Assassinate Gaza Hamas Chief Sinwar, Report Says

Al-Araby al-Jadid reports Israel wanted to target Hamas leader for rejecting plans for border calm, explosive-laden balloon launches into Israel

Jack Khoury
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Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar attends a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2016.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar attends a rally in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 7, 2016.Credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS
Jack Khoury

An Egyptian security delegation visiting Israel last week blocked a plan to assassinate Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar as well as a senior Hamas military official, the Qatari-funded daily Al-Araby al-Jadid reported Tuesday.

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According to the London-based newspaper, the delegation made a surprise visit to Gaza and Israel last week after Egypt received information that Israel was planning to assassinate Sinwar and Marwan Issa, who is considered a deputy to the Hamas military leader and bombing mastermind Muhammad Def.

The report is based on Egyptian and Palestinian sources, with indeterminable credibility. According to the report, Israel wanted to assassinate the two due to their rejection of the terms to restore calm on the Israel-Gaza border and following an increase of explosive-laden balloon launches into Israel. The Egyptian delegation, it says, cautioned senior Israelis of the potential effects and escalation in violence such assassinations could bring, which led to the plans being shelved.

The report adds that Sinwar, who is seen as a moderate force, is under pressure from Hamas’ military wing. Hamas opposes achieving a deal for prolonged calm, claiming that promises were not kept that they would see greater openness on the part of Gulf nations in exchange for distancing themselves from Iran.

At the same time in Israel, there were assessments that assassinating the likes of Sinwar and Issa would bring a measured response similar to the events which came after Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata’s assaination last year. The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported last week that Sinwar didn’t attend the meeting with the Egyptian delegation fearing he could be targeted by an assassination. Neither Hamas nor Israel has commented on the report.

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