March 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Top Hamas Terrorist Targeted, Fate Unclear

March 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Top Hamas Terrorist Targeted, Fate Unclear

Latest Developments

Israel carried out a precision airstrike on March 10 to kill the deputy chief of Hamas military operations, but his fate remains unclear. Marwan Issa, second-in-command of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was the main target of an overnight bombing of a tunnel in the central Gaza Strip town of Nusseirat, Israeli sources said on March 11. Gaza authorities said five Palestinians were killed in the attack, but there was no immediate confirmation that Issa was among them. If confirmed, it would mark one of the most senior Hamas figures killed during the more than five-month-old war.

Issa, 59, has served as deputy to Mohammed Deif, the elusive Hamas “chief of staff,” and as liaison between him and Yahya Sinwar, the Palestinian terrorist group’s overall leader in the Gaza Strip. Issa was also among the architects of the October 7 cross-border rampage by Hamas that triggered the Gaza war.

Expert Analysis

“A major counter-terrorism campaign can only benefit from the elimination of a major terrorist. If indeed Issa has been killed, there would be added benefits in terms of whittling down enemy morale, given the indications that he was tracked down through extraordinarily precise intelligence and was hit well underground. And all of this happened without any word of human-shield hostages dying alongside him. Hamas will predictably thunder about Israel supposedly endangering the very Gaza truce it has been dangling for weeks. But what is no less likely is that the surviving Hamas leaders may rethink their own truce terms, and soften them, in the hope of not ending up like Issa.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Since the start of the war, Israel made it clear that those who planned and participated in the October 7 Hamas-led terrorist attack in southern Israel would meet justice. The possible elimination of deputy leader Marwan Issa would not only be a significant achievement for Israel but also a clear message to high-ranking Hamas leaders like Yahya Sinwar and Muhammed Deif that Israel is committed to ensuring justice is served.” — Joe Truzman, Senior Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Deputy Hamas Leader Killed in Beirut

The third-most senior Hamas figure, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed on January 2 in a Beirut blast that Lebanese authorities blamed on Israel. Arouri was among at least four people who died in an Israeli drone strike on a Hamas media office in the southern Dahiyeh suburb of the Lebanese capital, a Hezbollah stronghold, authorities said. Arouri pursued an especially aggressive Palestinian terrorism strategy, with a focus on the West Bank, where he ordered the 2014 abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, sparking a war in Gaza. After a period of being headquartered in Turkey, Arouri relocated to Lebanon, where he spearheaded Hamas’s coordination with Hezbollah and their shared Iranian patron.

Hamas’s Top Terrorist Leadership,” FDD Insight

Hamas No. 3 Killed in Beirut Blast,” FDD Flash Brief

10 Things to Know About Hamas,” FDD Insight


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