Hamas loses control of northern Gaza as senior leaders slain

A view of the Shati Camp in the northern Gaza Strip, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

by Baruch Yedid

(JNS) — Hamas confirmed on Nov. 17 that Ahmed Behar, the terrorist group’s No. 3 figure and the highest-ranking person killed since Oct. 7, died in an Israeli airstrike earlier in the week.

The 76-year-old Behar, a member of Hamas’s ruling politburo, was a close associate of the organization’s founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

The Israel Air Force targeted a number of other high-level Hamas figures over the weekend, said Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari on Nov. 18.

Ahmed Randor, who commanded Hamas’s Northern Brigade, and Ahmed Siam, the commander of Hamas’s Rocket Brigade, were in an underground bunker struck by Israel, Hagari said. Randor is No. 3 in Hamas’s military hierarchy and helped plan the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Hagari did not, however, say whether Randor and Siam had been injured or killed.

In another underground bunker hit by Israel were Asam Dalyis, head of the Hamas government, and Raukhi Mushta and Sameh Sarraj, both close associates of Hamas Gaza strongman Yahya Sinwar.

Mushta was among the 1,027 security prisoners released by Israel in the Shalit prisoner exchange of 2011 and has been described as Sinwar’s right-hand man.

Sarraj was the founder of the Hamas offensive cyber unit, which operates from Turkey, and managed it remotely from the Gaza Strip.

Other senior Hamas personalities killed in recent days include Iman Siam, who headed the terrorist group’s missile array, Atsam Dealis, who served as the de facto prime minister of Hamas, and Matzafa Suaf, a publicist and senior journalist in Hamas’s service.

The Hamas politburo, which is Sinwar’s main source of power, suffered severe blows when seven of its people were killed, including Osama Mazini, who also served as chairman of the Shura Council of Hamas, Gamila Shanti, Zakaria Abu Ma’amer and Jawad Abu Shamala.

Hamas has lost control over the northern Gaza Strip as outposts collapse and commanders are killed or flee to southern Gaza.

As the Israeli military shifts its attention to southern Gaza, it is expected that the next focus of fighting will be in Khan Yunis, the Strip’s second-largest city and a Sinwar stronghold.