May 22, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11343

Palestinian Journalist: In Negotiations With Israel, Hamas Leader In Gaza Yahya Sinwar Prioritizes His Personal Interests Over The Welfare Of The Gazans, Even At The Cost Of 'Destroying All That Is Palestinian'

May 22, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11343

In a series of columns on the Saudi news website Elaph and in the London-based Emirati daily Al-Arab, Palestinian journalist Abd Al-Bari Fayyad pointedly criticized the stubbornness displayed by Hamas, and especially by its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, in the negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages. Noting that this stubbornness thwarts any possibility of reaching an agreement and thereby deepens the suffering of the Gazans, Fayyad added that Sinwar is ignoring the dire consequences of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood (i.e., the October 7 attacks) on the residents of the Gaza Strip out of an obsessive desire to remain in power even at the cost of every Gazan's life. Fayyad expressed concern that Sinwar's conduct will be "a prelude to the return of the occupation, which may weigh heavily on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for decades to come."

Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar (Image: Al-Arab, London, May 10, 2024)

The following are translated excerpts from these columns.

Sinwar, Who Serves Iran, Is Obsessed With Retaining Leadership Of Hamas Even At Risk Of Destroying All That Is Palestinian

In is May 7, 2024 article titled "This Is How Sinwar Makes Trouble for Hamas," Fayyad wrote: "Israel surprised us yesterday when it carried out a military operation in Rafah, which it described as extremely limited and intended to pressure Hamas into accepting a temporary truce [hudna], while [Hamas] asserted that it would not forgo its conditions for a ceasefire…

"In recent hours Hamas announced that it accepts the Egyptian-Qatari proposal for a truce. The coming days may tell whether Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip, will prioritize his personal interests or rather prioritize the people of Gaza by waiving some of his conditions and agreeing to a truce that will prevent civilian bloodshed, especially given that the Israeli killing machine is not stopping!

"Sinwar's calculations regarding Gaza may have been mistaken, in that he insisted on all his conditions for stopping the war without reconsidering the negative consequences of  the [Al-Aqsa] Flood for the people of Gaza and [the fact that] it may boomerang against the Hamas movement. It was clear from the first moment of the war that Sinwar wanted to present himself as the great Palestinian leader who managed to confound Israel with an attack unprecedented in Palestinian history since the Nakba. But an objective examination of the war and its outcomes reveals that Sinwar's self-perception, which is based on an obsession for leadership, has given rise to scenarios that severely jeopardize the future of the Gaza Strip, which is about to fall back under the rule of the occupation [some] 20 years after the late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon withdrew from it… 

"It is clear that Sinwar is not interested in swiftly concluding the agreement with Israel or in attaining a truce for the benefit of the people of Gaza, because he knows what the implications of this agreement would be for Benjamin Netanyahu's government, and because his goal is to perpetuate the resistance project, remain the head of movement and restore Gaza to Hamas control – even at the cost of continuing the war and destroying all that is Palestinian. Because nothing matters as long as the Iranian aid to the movement, estimated at about $222 million over six years, continues.

"Sinwar made his first mistake when he decided to implement Iran's agenda and planned the [October 7] operation [despite] limited options and without clearly determining its costs and benefits, while placing the burden of the complicated negotiation process on the shoulders of the Hamas leadership abroad… He then made another mistake when he set complicated terms at the very last moment of the decisive phase of the war, and here I am referring to the invasion of Rafah. All this had a negative effect on Hamas and on its leaders abroad…

"Generally speaking, the coming days will determine not only the fates of Sinwar and Hamas, but also the future of Gaza and the future of the region in the long term, and I fear that Sinwar's mistakes are a prelude to the return of the occupation, which may weigh heavily on the Palestinians in the Gaza strip for decades to come."[1]

Hamas Behaves With Arrogance And Stubbornness While The Gazans Bleed

In an April 19 article titled "Hamas Wades in a Sea of Palestinian Blood," Fayyad wrote: "… "Hamas, in its arrogance, continues to provoke the Israeli occupation state and causes it to perpetrate more acts of slaughter against the unarmed Palestinian people. The movement that calls itself 'resistance' makes sure to blackmail Israel in order to realize certain objectives, while the [Palestinian] people is being killed and exterminated…

"Hamas perhaps seeks to wrest from Israel the most profitable deal in history, for it continues to hold [the Israeli] hostages without making any sign of agreeing to a reconciliation or truce, while the sea of Palestinian blood grows deeper by the day… This Hamas arrogance continues while the Gazans' crisis expands daily and they suffer every kind of death…

"Apparently, the leaders of the movement have not budged from their basic principle – which is to give top priority to securing Hamas' interests at the expense of its people who die by the minute – because even after this destructive war [ends], Hamas will continue to build its private emirate. The declarations of its leaders are the epitome of arrogance and condescension, [traits] that  characterize Yahya Sinwar, who always gambles on certain developments that lead to  escalation… When will the movement learn its lesson from the blood spattered everywhere and the prevailing destruction, and when will it heed the desires of its wounded people? Ultimately, we are left with the main question: where is Hamas' arrogance taking the people of Gaza?"[2]

Hamas Torpedoes All Negotiations That Don't Serve Its Interests And Exacerbates The Gazans' Suffering

In an April 3 article titled "Hamas' Stubbornness Exacerbates the Suffering of the People of Gaza," Fayyad wrote: "…It seems that Hamas' rigid position is closing the window on the negotiations for the release of the Israeli hostages, because it adheres to [its demand] to release all its operatives from Israel's prisons in exchange [for the hostages]. Israel opposes this, claiming that this is an unreasonable ratio, [and this] brings the negotiations to a dead end and dissolves all the mediators' efforts to [achieve] a truce between the two sides and an end to the war in Gaza, or to reduce the suffering of its people…

"The sense is that Hamas derails all negotiations that do not serve its interests, especially since it asked for the release of 300 of its people from the occupation prisons in exchange for 40 detained Israelis…

"Although the mediators are patient and want to urgently end this inhuman war, all these attempts, initiatives and meetings fail, thus exacerbating the sorrow of the Palestinian people. Hamas finds the negotiations difficult and realizes that concessions may cause it to lose Gaza. It fears the possibility that, after the negotiations end, it will be excluded from the political [scene] by the people of Gaza, who have reached their present situation due to an exclusive decision by this movement [Hamas], whose sole desire is to achieve political gains at the expense of the people who now live out in the open or in [temporary] shelters.

"The mediators' initiatives to achieve a political solution in Gaza and stop the war may be renewed in the coming period, but they will [again] run up against the barrier of opposition from Hamas, which has no respect for any of these efforts…"[3]  

In a March 14 article titled "Sinwar's Personal Interests Take Precedence to the Pains of the Gazans," Fayyad wrote: "It seems that the calculations of Hamas' leaders, especially those of Sinwar, the head of its political bureau in Gaza, include no [element of] wanting a truce. On the contrary, they look only to further their personal interests, at the expense of the residents, who are exterminated every day by the Israeli genocide machine that spares neither children nor elders. Why doesn't Sinwar surrender and put an end to this all-out war?...

"Sinwar has many options today, the first of which is to reach a ceasefire agreement and release the hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. But this [option] will not really allow him to claim victory, while the disaster-struck people of Gaza demand to hold him accountable for his actions…"[4]


[1], May 7, 2024; Al-Arab (London), May 5, 2024.

[2], April 19, 2024; Al-Arab (London), April 20, 2024.

[3], April 3, 2024; Al-Arab (London), April 6, 2024.

[4], April 14, 2024; Al-Arab (London), March 16, 2024.

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