Yahya Sinwar Is Not Up for the Task of Running the Gaza Strip

The Gaza Strip of the last decade is a despairing place since the rise of Hamas; the situation brought about the deterioration of the Strip, and the future looked bleak. Now the current circumstances has amplified the devastating situation, and it seems that Yahya Sinwar is not succeeding in dealing with these challenges. He is simply not a leader, and must resign

​The Gaza Strip has been deteriorating in every aspect for the last decade. From an economic aspect, there is an economic standstill and high unemployment rate; from a security aspect, beyond the conflicts with Israel once every few years, the security forces of the terror organization Hamas terrorizes the residents of the Strip on a daily basis; from a political aspect, the disengagement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, has deepened and the gap is wider than ever before. Despite all of this, Yahya Sinwar was transformed into the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, officially being elected as the head of Hamas in Gaza, proves that this situation continues to reach new lows, and only amounts to more deterioration. Since his election, Sinwar has succeeded in making every possible mistake and he has proved, in practice, it is simply too hard for him to handle.

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The first significant decision that Sinwar made immediately after his election was the establishment of the “Administrative Committee of the Gaza Strip”. The reason for this establishment is still not clear, even though it is clear to everyone that the terror organization Hamas has no need for a committee in order to manage the “government system” in the Strip, as it has been ruled by Hamas in the last decade. Therefore, it can be assumed that the considerations behind the establishment were mainly political. In other words, Sinwar wants to show Mahmoud Abbas who is “the real boss” in the Strip, and if it this comes at the expense of Gazans – so be it.

However, Sinwar did not think through the implications of this step. Mahmoud Abbas’ response was immediate and painful – if there was a committee to manage the Gaza Strip, it would exempt the Palestinian Authority from the responsibility to continue funding for the Strip. Therefore, he cancelled the exemption of taxes on diesel for the Strip, cut the salaries of officials and stopped the funding for electricity, and who knows what will come next. Residents of the Strip are now paying the price and are forced to deal with the electricity shortages during most hours of the day, being without fresh water for days on end, sewage systems collapsing and health systems are functioning part-time.

But that isn’t everything. One mistake can be forgiven by a new leader, but in his second significant decision, Sinwar only cared about showing “who’s the boss” even if it comes at the expense of the residents of the Strip. On the 24th of March, the Hamas activist Mazzen Fuqaha was killed. Sinwar’s response to the event was hysterical and disproportionate, and mainly affected the residents of the Gaza Strip. Sinwar decided to close all crossings of the Strip, including a ban on fisherman from sailing out to sea, initiating an alleged witch hunt against collaborators, a security operation against “spreading rumors”, preventing any gathering of Fatah members in the Strip and more. According to which, if the situation continues, they will remove their people from the Gaza Strip. Sinwar finally agreed to cancel some of these measures – not because of the cries of the Gazan people persuaded him but rather because of pressure from international organizations.

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Now the question is, did Sinwar’s desperate steps help locate the assassins, and make the Strip any safer? Probably not. However, these measures severely damaged the residents of the Strip. Maybe that was the goal – to induce fear into the residents of the Strip in order to establish Yahya Sinwar as “the great” of the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, the relationship between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has been damaged. It is not clear whose offense damaged the relationship and what is exactly happening behind the scenes, but it is a fact that until the election of Sinwar, it seemed that the relationship between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was warming up, and there were corresponding messages regarding the opening of Rafah Crossing for longer periods of time. After Sinwar rose to power the relationship between the two went sour: the crossing closed and there were no conversations between the two sides. Egypt signaled that they have no interest in working with any person that identifies collaborating with the “Sinai Province” of ISIS.

As the Palestinian Authority and Egypt have given the cold shoulder to Gaza, it seems the only source Sinwar can rely on is Israel; the same Israel that continues to supply Gaza with electricity, goods and coordinates for Gazans to enter Israel for humanitarian purposes. But Sinwar appears to be working on his next big plan – his threats toward Israel indicate he is planning an attack and is possibly hoping for another conflict with Israel. And why not? After all it will be the people of Gaza who will pay the price for it, not Sinwar. Elections for Hamas’ terrorist leadership are held every four years, and in the meantime Sinwar can sit back and relax while many are killed and wounded. The main thing for Sinwar is to prove that he is “the real boss”.   

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It is time to call Yahya Sinwar out – he is not up for the task of running the Gaza Strip. The residents of the Gaza Strip deserve a better leader. They deserve someone who thinks of how to invest in Gaza rather than destroying it.  Someone who ensures water and electricity for Gazans and does not encourage Mahmoud Abbas to revoke it. Someone who wants to invest in education and health systems in Gaza and not in the military wing of Hamas. Someone who can repair relations with Egypt and disengage relations with Iran and ISIS. A real leader. Yahya Sinwar is just not cut out for it.