Israeli Media Survey Jaabari Successor

Palestinian protesters hold a placard depicting Ahmed Jaabari, slain Hamas's military mastermind, during a demonstration supporting Hamas in the West Bank city of Nablus 16 November 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Abed Omar Qusini)

By: Mohamad Bdeir

Published Saturday, November 17, 2012

In the middle of a Hamas media blackout about the successor of Ahmed al-Jaabari – the leader of Hamas’ armed wing, Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, who was assassinated by an Israeli missile 14 November 2012 – Israeli analysts are scrambling to identify who might be his replacement.

Yedioth Ahronoth claimed it’s Marwan Issa, commander of the special forces unit in the Brigades and presumed by some Israeli reports to be in charge of the armed wing’s external relations.

Issa, known as Abu al-Bara’, had spent five years in Israeli jails in the early 1990s for his involvement in Hamas’ military activities. He was rearrested in 1997 by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and survived an Israeli assassination attempt in 2006.

For its part, the Israeli Hebrew-language news site Walla! predicted that the successor would be the “legendary commander” of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammad al-Daif.

According to the website, Daif (b. 1965) acted as Jaabari’s right hand in recent years and still held the formal title of commander in the Brigades, despite suffering from partial paralysis, also due to an Israeli assassination attempt.

Walla! said that his chances in returning to his duties as commander, despite his disability, have been on the rise lately, due to being highly respected by Hamas members.

The site also indicated that the candidates include Raed al-Attar, commander of the Rafah section in the Brigades, who escaped an assassination attempt that coincided with the successful attack on Jaabari.

Attar was close to Jaabari and used to be in charge of the underground tunnels built by Hamas to link Gaza with Egypt. According to Walla!, he was behind sending resistance fighters to Sinai in 2010 and the rocket attack on Eilat the same year. It also claimed he planned numerous operations to capture Israeli soldiers.

The media services website The Israel Project came up with additional names. One of them was Ahmed Ghandour (Abu Anas), born in 1967. Between 1988 and 1994, Ghandour was arrested five times by the PA and spent several years in an Israeli prison.

According to the website, during the second Intifada Ghandour started assisting Adnan al-Ghoul, the main Hamas architect in the Gaza Strip and Daif’s right hand. Following Ghoul’s assassination in 2004 by occupation forces, Ghandour was appointed commander of the northern sector of the Strip.

The website indicated that Ghandour and Jaabari were very close, in addition to his close relationship with Mohammad Darmoush, who commands the popular resistance committees and oversees its operations and activities.

Other names making the rounds in Israel are Mohammad Abu-Shamaleh, commander of the southern sector of the Strip with the Brigades, and Mohammad al-Sinwar, commander of the Khan Younis sector.

This is addition to Ayman Nawfal, commander of the refugee camps in the central sector of the Gaza Strip. Nawfal was jailed in Egypt in 2008, but managed to escape back to Gaza after the fall of the Mubarak regime in 2011.

No matter who will be Jaabari’s successor, Israeli pundits believe it will take some time to fill the shoes of the charismatic and unifying leader, who had managed to extend his influence to all sections of Hamas’ military wing, without any clear challenger.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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