Israel checking if top Hamas militant killed in air strike, Haaretz newspaper reports

Israel checking if top Hamas militant killed in air strike, Haaretz newspaper reports

JERUSALEM (Reuters): The Israeli military is checking whether senior Hamas militant Marwan Issa was killed in an air strike in Gaza this week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday.

The Israeli military did not immediately confirm the report, which said a site in central Gaza’s Nusseirat was struck two days ago, based on intelligence that Issa, believed to be the second-in-command of Hamas’ armed wing, was there.

Hamas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Israeli newspaper report.

Issa is at the top of Israel’s most-wanted list, together with Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’ military wing the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam Brigades, and Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, who are believed to have masterminded the group’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that triggered the Gaza war.

If confirmed, his death could complicate efforts to secure a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal in negotiations that have already stalled.

Hamas-linked website warns Palestinians not to work with Israel’

A Hamas-linked website on Monday warned Palestinian individuals or groups against co-operating with Israel to provide security for aid convoys amid the five-month-old war in the Gaza Strip.

Those who did would be treated as collaborators and be handled with an iron fist, the Hamas Al-Majd security website said, quoting a security official in Palestinian militant forces.

The warning came in response to Israeli media reports that Israel was considering arming some Palestinian individuals or clans in Gaza to provide security protection for aid convoys into the besieged enclave as part of wider planning for humanitarian supplies after the fighting ends.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s office has declined to comment on the report, which came a week after dozens of Palestinians were killed in an incident in which crowds surrounded a convoy of aid trucks entering northern Gaza and troops opened fire.

“The occupation’s attempt to communicate with the leaders and clans of some families to operate within the Gaza Strip is considered direct collaboration with the occupation and is a betrayal of the nation that we will not tolerate,” the website said, quoting the official.

“The occupation’s (Israel) efforts to establish bodies to manage Gaza are a ‘failed conspiracy’ that will not materialize.”

With civil order increasingly strained in Hamas-run Gaza and police refusing to provide security to convoys because of the risk of being targeted by Israeli forces, the issue of secure distribution of desperately needed food and other supplies has become a major problem.

Gaza has several large traditional family clans, affiliated with political factions including Hamas and Fatah, the rival group that dominates the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank. Some of those clans are believed to be well-armed and there has been no indication that they would consider working with Israel.

Responding to plans by the European Union and the United States to create a sea corridor to send aid ships to the enclave, senior Hamas official Basem Naim said it was a “positive” step but the world should have rather acted to end the war.

“Ensuring all the needs of the population in the Gaza Strip are met is not a favor from anyone; it is a guaranteed right under international humanitarian law even during times of war,” Naim told Reuters.

“If the US administration is serious about solving the humanitarian crisis, the easiest and shortest path is to stop using veto power to allow a ceasefire to be reached, and to compel Israel to open all land crossings and allow entry of all required aid,” Naim said.