A moral and military blow for Hamas

The killing of the senior Hamas commanders – Raed Atar, Muhammad Abu Shamaleh and Muhammad Barhoum – and the attack on Deif’s hideout have shattered the self-confidence of the movement’s leaders.

By
August 22, 2014 01:39
3 minute read.
Hamas militants in Gaza

Hamas militants bury a slain comrade in Gaza. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

The assassination of three of Hamas’s most important military commanders in an Israeli air strike is the worst and most painful blow dealt to the movement’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, in recent years.

The last time Izzadin Kassam suffered a major blow was when Israel killed its general commander, Ahmed Jabari, in November 2012.

The killing of the three Hamas commanders in a pre-dawn strike on a house in Rafah came less than 48 hours after the IAF targeted a house in Gaza City where Muhammad Deif, Izzadin Kassam’s “chief of staff,” was believed to be staying together with his wife and children.

By Thursday night it was still not clear whether Deif had been killed.

But what is already clear is that the killing of the senior Hamas commanders – Raed Atar, Muhammad Abu Shamaleh and Muhammad Barhoum – and the attack on Deif’s hideout have shattered the self-confidence of the movement’s leaders.

Deif and the three slain commanders are supposed to be among the most protected Hamas military figures in the Gaza Strip. They are rarely seen in public and spend most of their time moving from one hiding place to another.

These are not political leaders or spokesmen who do not hesitate to move around freely in the Gaza Strip and give interviews to local and foreign journalists. Only a small number of people know where the Hamas military commanders hang out.

The targeting of the Hamas commanders represents a serious intelligence blunder for the movement’s armed wing. It shows that Israel has either managed to infiltrate the group or that its has informants who are very close to Hamas’s top military brass.

A sign of the panic that has engulfed Hamas following the air strikes on its military commanders was provided by the summary execution of three Palestinian “collaborators” shortly after the assassination of the three men early Thursday.

Sources close to Hamas announced that the “collaborators,” whose identities were not revealed, had been executed by firing squad after being subjected to “revolutionary procedures.”


The sources said another four “collaborators” were being interrogated on suspicion that they had tipped Israel about the hiding place of the three commanders.

It’s naive to think the targeting of the top Hamas commanders would deter the movement or end the rocket attacks on Israel.

It’s also naive, however, to think the assassination of Hamas’s top and most experienced military commanders would not hurt the movement and its armed wing.

A long time will pass before Izzadin Kassam manages to fill the vacuum created by the departure of the three top figures and symbols whose expertise dates back to the late ’80s, when Hamas was established.

Even if the killing of the Hamas leaders does not affect the movement’s military capabilities, it is still seen as a severe moral blow to the armed wing.

A statement published Thursday by Izzadin Kassam openly admitted that the loss of its three top commanders was a “moral shock to the spirits of the members and supporters of the resistance.”

Nonetheless, the group said that despite the “moral pain,” the killings would strengthen the determination of others to step forward to succeed the slain commanders.

Finally, it remains to be seen whether the targeting of the military commanders will affect relations between Izzadin Kassam and Hamas’s political leaders.

The armed group is now urging the political leaders not to return to the Cairo cease-fire talks, lest that be interpreted as a sign of weakness and submission on the part of the movement.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The Dome of the Rock is seen in the background as Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and his wife Ce
June 26, 2019
Chilean president apologizes for Temple Mount visit with Palestinians

By TOVAH LAZAROFF, GREER FAY CASHMAN

Cookie Settings