By Emily Betz, International News Writer
Yehya al-Sinwar was elected in secret this week as the new prime minister of Gaza. The Hamas leader who had spent the last two decades confined to an Israeli prison was released in 2011, as part of a prisoner swap. Sinwar, 50, has taken a hard stance on the use of militant force, promising the destruction of Israel.
In an interview with the New York Times, Kobi Michael a former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry for Strategic affairs said “First of all you have to remember that Sinwar is a terrorist…He represents the most extreme line of Hamas.”
The United States and most of Europe have listed Hamas as a terrorist organization, due to their targeting of Israeli civilians and the use of suicide bombers in active warfare, as was seen in the Gaza War of 2008.
However, there is some debate on whether the Hamas movement can still be considered a terrorist organization having established a legitimate democratic government, as proof with the election of Yehya al-Sinwar.
Sinwar is known for his military prowess, being one of the highest ranking officers in Hamas’ secret military sector, the Qassam Brigades, before his election this past week.
He is suspected of the torture and murder of a Hamas general, Mahmoud Ishtiwi, and was responsible for the torture and killing of Israelis and Palestinians for “moral crimes” and suspicions of Israeli association.
In December, the United Nations voted that the settlements established since 1967 on the West Bank and in Gaza were illegal and were to be removed with all future settlements to cease.
There were 14 votes in favor of the resolution, the United States abstaining to vote still valuing Israel as a strong ally. The Israeli government however has refused to comply, instead announcing plans to build 3,000 more homes on the West bank and the Gaza strip.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has been an ongoing battle since Israel’s establishment in 1948. The United Nations has attempted numerous times to help broker a two-state solution, to ensure peace.
A peace treaty has not been agreed upon, despite polls suggesting civilians on both sides wish for a two-state solution. This is due primarily to disagreements of state lines, water rights, and control of the city of Jerusalem seen as holy grounds by Israel. There is also much distrust on both sides, each fearing that the other will hold up their end of the treaty.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars against each other since 2008, with the last cease-fire in 2014.
However, Hamas has continued to build up is missiles and tunnel systems in preparations for more attacks.
The election of Yehya al-Sinwar, a strong militant leader and his promises of Israel’s destruction, makes the possibilities of peace negotiations more uncertain. Israeli education minister in recognition of the conflict between Hamas and Israel said that it was a “question of time, not a question of if” for when the fighting would resume.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.
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