Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

And Now… Gaza’s Fate

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would assume “overall security responsibility” in the Gaza Strip after the war indefinitely. Netanyahu told ABC News that Gaza should be governed by “those who don't want to continue the way of Hamas."

This is the clearest statement regarding Israel’s intentions and its plan for this war. After Netanyahu’s announcement the future of Gaza and who will rule it has become a matter of concern in the region as a whole and even the countries from other parts of the world that are involved.

It is no secret that the debate discussion of ideas and names had already begun. However, Netanyahu’s announcement will now render it the ultimate topic of conversation. The first to sense this were Tehran and Hamas. It reiterated, after Haniyeh had announced that he wanted to initiate a political track towards a two-state solution, that there is no alternative to Hamas.

Several Hamas officials have also stated that no future in Gaza could be negotiated without it. That is why we saw Ismail Haniyeh head to Tehran, and that is why we see Iranian officials everywhere in the region searching for a role and opportunities to prevent the exclusion of Hamas from Gaza.

I do not believe that any of the parties keen on protecting Hamas can afford to pay the costs needed to do so, especially since in the battle between Hamas and Netanyahu, whoever flinches first will meet a dire political end. This is the fault of the operation and its timing, and this is the end of Israeli extremism.

Thus, the question is: What can Hamas and its allies do to end the war and protect the movement? Will Hamas sacrifice field commanders in the hope that leaders could seek exile abroad and survive? Indeed, the leaders on the ground, Yahya Sinwar in particular, had removed Meshaal and forced Haniyeh to leave the Gaza Strip.

In this regard, it is worth noting the statements and nods, in the Western press, about Sinwar’s “brutality” compared to other Hamas political officials. The most prominent example is the profile of Sinwar published by the Financial Times.

Based on interviews with anonymous sources, it reports that the moderate Palestinians are aware that Sinwar has taken them back “to the Stone Age” with the October 7 operation. Sources close to Sinwar informed the FT that Sinwar gained a reputation for “cruelty and violence” as he rose through the ranks of Hamas.

The newspaper quoted a “non-Israeli” source as saying that there is a difference between how Hamas officials behave in the presence of Sinwar and when they are alone. The source, who has been dealing with Sinwar for years, said Sinwar runs his ship through terror: “It is fear... they are afraid of him.”

The same source also claims that Sinwar is not a modest person, and “he has an enormous ego and sees himself as if on some sort of mission in this world. He’s a sociopath. I don’t mean this as an insult. He would think nothing of sacrificing tens of thousands of lives, and more, to achieve his goals.”

From Netanyahu's statement, Hamas’s statements, and the information being leaked about Sinwar, it is clear that everyone involved is thinking about the future of Gaza, even Hamas. The question will certainly be decided on the ground. That means that everyone sees the big picture now and that more innocent victims, unfortunately, will die.