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Israel-Hamas war: How Sinwar plotted destruction hiding in plain sight

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Israel-Hamas war: How Sinwar plotted destruction hiding in plain sight



Last year, Yahya Sinwar told a rally in Gaza that Hamas would deploy terrorists and rockets in a fierce strike on Israel, the nation that imprisoned him for 23 years before he was freed and rose to a leadership role in the terrorist group.

The speech by Hamas’ leader in Gaza to thousands of cheering supporters bore the hallmarks of crowd-pleasing hyperbole. Less than a year later, Israel discovered it was no idle threat, when Hamas terrorists broke through Gaza’s fence, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage.

“We will come to you, God willing, in a roaring flood. We will come to you with endless rockets, we will come to you in a limitless flood of soldiers, we will come to you with millions of our people, like the repeating tide,” he said during his December 14 address.

By the time of the speech, Sinwar and the terrorist terrorists’ military leader Mohammed Deif had already hatched secret plans for the October 7 massacre, the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history. In response, Israel has bombarded and invaded Gaza.

Heard in hindsight, Sinwar’s words carry the foreboding of what was to come, an attack Hamas dubbed the “flood of Al-Aqsa,” a reference to the mosque in Jerusalem that is one of Islam’s holiest shrines and stands on a place revered by Jews as Temple Mount.

Palestinian Muslims attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, on October 6, 2023. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

The influence of Sinwar

Sinwar is leading negotiations for prisoner-hostage swaps and directing military operations along with Deif and another commander, possibly from bunkers beneath Gaza, three Hamas sources have told Reuters.

A senior Israeli security official told reporters this week that Sinwar had wielded influence over talks mediated by Qatar that led to the ceasefire that ended on Friday after the release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners by Israel in return for dozens of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

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In the days after the Oct. 7 attacks, Sinwar was seen by some of the Israeli hostages in the tunnels, freed hostages have said. Hamas and Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the reported sighting.

The question of hostages and prisoner swaps is deeply personal for Sinwar, who spent half his adult life behind bars, and has vowed to free all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

In his only statement since the attacks, he called on prison care associations to prepare the names of Palestinians jailed in Israel, suggesting they would all be brought home.

He was himself one of 1,027 Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli prisons in a swap for a single Israeli soldier held in Gaza in 2011.

“I call on the resistance to pledge to free the remaining prisoners. This must turn immediately to a practical plan,” he said at a huge homecoming rally in Gaza City after his release.

“Dead man walking”

Born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp, Sinwar, 61, was made Hamas’ leader in Gaza in 2017. Since Oct. 7, Israel has considered him and other leaders to be “living on borrowed time,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last week

Israel is unlikely to end the war before Sinwar is dead or captured, officials in the region have said.

Sinwar rose to prominence as a ruthless enforcer, the head of the Al-Majd security apparatus which tracked, killed and punished Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel’s secret service before he was jailed.

Both Hamas leaders and Israeli officials who know Sinwar agree he is devoted to the terrorist movement to an extraordinary level.

One Hamas figure based in Lebanon described him as “puritanical…with an amazing ability of endurance.”

Michael Koubi, a former Shin Bet official who interrogated Sinwar for 180 hours in prison, said he clearly stood out for his ability to intimidate and command. Koubi once asked the terrorist, then aged 28 or 29, why he was not already married.

“He told me Hamas is my wife, Hamas is my child. Hamas for me is everything.”

Sinwar had been arrested in 1988 and sentenced to consecutive life terms accused of planning the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers and the murder of four Palestinians.

In jail, his hard line against collaborators continued, Israelis who dealt with him have said.

At time, “he did not have Jewish blood on his hands, he had Palestinian blood on his hands,” Yuval Bitton, previously head of the Israel Prison Service’s intelligence division, told Channel 12 TV in October.

Bitton, a dentist who treated Sinwar, said Israeli medics removed a tumor in Sinwar’s brain in 2004. “We saved his life and this is his thanks,” said Bitton, whose nephew is among the hostages in Gaza.

Koubi described Sinwar as being devoted to the destruction of Israel and to killing Jews. The senior Israeli official described him as a “psychopath,” adding that “I don’t think the way he grasps reality is similar to more rational and pragmatic terrorists.”

Bitton added that the Hamas leader was willing to allow huge suffering for a cause and had once in prison led 1,600 prisoners to the brink of a mass hunger strike until death if needed in protest at the treatment of two men in isolation.

“He was ready to pay any price for the principle,” he said.





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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction

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Israel’s High Court rejects petition of east Jerusalem family facing eviction



Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected on Sunday a petition by an east Jerusalem family seeking to challenge a previous court decision – which ruled that the family must vacate their home in Silwan in favor of Jewish residents,  the Israeli NGO Peace Now reported. 

The Shhadeh family, from Batan al-Hawa in Silwan, challenged Judge Noam Solberg’s ruling, which rejected their appeal request. However, the Shhadeh family claimed that the court did not seek their response to the Jewish buyers’ applications in the case, leading to a flaw in the court’s decision-making process. Their voices were not heard before the decision – contrary to procedural rules. 

However, on Sunday, the High Court rejected the petition. 

Peace Now, an Israeli NGO working to promote a two-state solution, made a statement on the ruling, saying, “This is a political move, under the guise of legal proceedings, for the forcible displacement of a Palestinian community and its replacement by settlers in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem.” 

Palestinian children stand outside an apartment in the Silwan district of East Jerusalem in Jerusalem, May 15, 2024. (credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

“The responsibility to prevent the injustice lies with the government,” Peace Now added. “It must determine that if settlers have rights to properties from before 1948, they should be compensated for them, not to have the right to evict families who lawfully purchased the property and lived there for decades.”

Currently, all legal paths have reportedly been exhausted, and the family will need to evict its four-floor home by June 1. If they do not leave willingly, the Jewish buyers can file a procedure that would see police forcefully evict residents. 

Background on the case

In November 2022, the District Court rejected the Shhadeh family’s appeal and ruled that they must vacate their home. The family then filed a request to appeal to Israel’s High Court. Solberg, the judge who received the case, decided in 2023 to wait for the position of the Attorney General in a similar eviction case.

In the months that passed, while waiting for the Attorney General’s decision, the Jewish buyers’ lawyer submitted six requests to the court to expedite the decision and rule on the case. 

Following their sixth request in April 2024, Judge Solberg decided not to wait for the Attorney General’s decision and determined that the family must vacate their home. The family submitted a motion for reconsideration, which was also rejected by the judge. Last week, the family filed a petition to the High Court against the decision, which was rejected on Sunday. 

Ateret Cohanim, a right-wing group, was involved in the case and has filed numerous eviction lawsuits against some 84 Palestinian families in Silwan, Peace Now stated. Since 2015, 14 families have been evicted from Batan al-Hawa. 





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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians

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FM Katz severs connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and Palestinians



Israel will bar the Spanish Consulate in Jerusalem from servicing West Bank Palestinians to protest Madrid’s decision this week to unilaterally recognize Palestinian statehood.

“I have decided to sever the connection between Spain’s representation in Israel and the Palestinians,” FM Israel Katz wrote in a post on X on Friday.

Spain has an embassy in Tel Aviv that services Israelis and a consulate located in east Jerusalem that acts as a de facto embassy to the Palestinian Authority.

Most countries similarly split their missions, with an embassy in the Tel Aviv area that services sovereign Israel and a second mission located either in east Jerusalem or Ramallah for West Bank Palestinians.

Flags of Spain, Norway and Ireland seen as Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the United Nations (illustrative) (credit: REUTERS, WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)

Decision came after recognition of Palestinian statehood

Katz wrote Friday that he would “prohibit the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to Palestinians from the West Bank.”

He ordered the measure two days after Spain, Ireland and Norway announced they would unilaterally recognize Palestine as a state, a measure that officially goes into effect on May 28.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry immediately recalled its envoys from those three countries and severely reprimanded the ambassadors of those three countries at a meeting in Jerusalem.

Israel also plans to take additional measures against those three countries. Katz focused in particular on Spain because the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Diaz used the phrase “from the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” in a video message this week.

The slogan which calls for the borders of a Palestinian state to stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, is seen as a call for the elimination of the state of Israel, which is located din that territory.

Katz wrote, “If this ignorant, hate-filled individual wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in Al-Andalus—today’s Spain.”





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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history

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Ireland & Palestine – A brief history



Ireland is set to announce the recognition of a Palestinian state on Wednesday, following a similar move made hours earlier by Norway. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also plans to announce Spain’s recognition of an independent Palestinian state on the same day.

“Today, Ireland, Norway, and Spain are announcing that we recognize the state of Palestine,” said Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris at a press conference. “Each of us will now undertake the necessary national steps to give effect to that decision. I’m confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

Ireland and Palestine have maintained official relations since 2000, with Ireland establishing a representative office in Ramallah and Palestine maintaining one in Dublin. Both nations are members of the Union for the Mediterranean.

However, the relationship between Ireland and Palestine dates back much further. The Irish nationalist movement has long viewed the Palestinian cause through a similar lens of seeking to overthrow what they see as oppressive colonizers and achieve independent statehood, particularly aligning the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO.)

By the late 1960s, Ireland grew increasingly concerned about Palestinians displaced by the Six-Day War. In 1969, Irish Foreign Minister Frank Aiken highlighted this issue as a top priority in Ireland’s Middle East policy. Since then, Ireland has supported UN resolutions calling for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the territories captured during the war.

Flags of Palestine and Ireland flutter next to each other over the International Wall in support of Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 29, 2024 (credit: Clodagh Kilcoyn/Reuters)

‘IRA-PLO one struggle’

The connection between the Northern Ireland-based IRA and the PLO was most evident in the 1970s and early 1980s, often depicted in murals in nationalist areas. A notable example in Belfast showed armed IRA and PLO members with the slogan “IRA-PLO one struggle.” Sinn Féin linked its political strategy with movements like the ANC and PLO to provide a broader political context for its efforts. This alignment was regularly featured in the Sinn Féin newspaper An Phoblacht and grew stronger under Adams’ leadership in the 1980s.

In 1980, Ireland became the first EU member state to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 1999, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern visited Gaza, meeting PLO chief Yasser Arafat and touring the Jabaliya refugee camp, becoming the first national leader to fly directly from Palestine to their home country. In 2001, Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen also visited Gaza to meet Arafat.

Despite significant support for Palestine within Ireland, the government has yet to implement the 2014 decision to formalize diplomatic relations, preferring a coordinated EU approach. However, in April 2024, Foreign Minister Micheál Martin announced plans to recognize a Palestinian state within weeks.

Former Irish PM Leo Varadkar acknowledged differing views between the US and Ireland regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, particularly concerning Israeli actions in Gaza.

In 2009, Northern Ireland’s Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’ meeting with Hamas highlighted the longstanding ties between Irish Republicanism and Middle Eastern groups. This relationship began in the early 1970s with Libya’s support for the IRA. The IRA’s connections extended to Hezbollah, influencing tactics used in both Lebanon and Northern Ireland. The most enduring relationship was with the PLO, which trained IRA operatives.

Since the official end of the IRA’s armed campaign in 2005, mainstream Republican support for Palestine has been political. While Sinn Féin remains critical of Israel, accusing it of human rights violations, leaders like Gerry Adams publicly adopt a more moderate tone. Sinn Féin calls for EU sanctions against Israel and supports the Palestinian cause through various platforms.

Irish Republicanism’s anti-Israel stance has sometimes been accused of antisemitism. Historically, figures like Arthur Griffith and elements within the IRA expressed antisemitic views. Although overt antisemitism has decreased since the late 1960s, anti-Israel rhetoric sometimes crosses the line, reflecting an underlying historical bias.

Graffiti and murals in Republican areas during the second intifada often glorified Palestinian terrorism, and some Republicans suggested arming Palestinians with decommissioned IRA weapons. While modern Irish Republicanism may not be inherently antisemitic, its century-old undercurrent persists, influencing its stance on Israel and the Jewish people.

In January 2011, Ireland granted diplomatic status to the Palestinian delegation in Dublin. Later that year, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister indicated that the country might lead efforts to recognize Palestinian statehood, contingent on the Palestinian Authority gaining full control over its territories. In 2014, both houses of the Irish Parliament passed motions urging the Government to recognize the State of Palestine.

Today, this has finally come to fruition. 





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