One angle of the Israeli Hamas conflict is focused on Israeli’ Hamas Kill List for those responsible for Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli soil, but simultaneous conflicts simmering could seriously expand further than it has already in two other fronts, the West Bank and Israel’s border with Lebanon, and beyond to Iraq and Syria.
Israeli’s Hamas Kill List
Israeli military and intelligence are known for their sophistication and use of spies to take out enemies with precision. What they are relying upon now to take out their designated list of senior Hamas targets responsible for the heinous attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 is far more strategic as it focuses on Gaza, but it is not fully contained.
Israelis are using a triangle of intelligence expertise known as HUMINT, VISINT and SIGINT to take out Hamas leadership in Gaza and those aligned with Hamas. HUMINT is human intelligence on the ground; VISINT, otherwise known as visual intelligence, referring to aerial surveillance; SIGINT is the interception of communications.
Some targets have already been taken out but others still remain.
Hamas’ leadership in Gaza is one of Israel's targets and at the top of Israeli’s Kill List is Yahya Sinwar, whose nickname is the “Butcher of Khan Yunis.”
Sinwar is the highest-ranking Hamas official inside Gaza, its defacto ruler, second only to Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who was designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Department of State as of 2018. Haniyeh has resided in Qatar for the last several years, and is the founder of the Hamas security service known as Majd.
“Yahya Sinwar is the commander of the campaign, and he is a dead man,” according to Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. Sinwar is Hamas’s “military and political leadership, all of its assets, are subject to attack and doomed,” added Hagari.
Mohammed Deif, the leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing is near the top of the list also. Deif is infamous for changing his location daily. There are only three known pictures of him, two of which include face-coverings. Mossad and IDF refer to Deif as the “The Cat with Nine Lives.” To Israelis, he is the “Mastermind” to Palestinians, who sympathize with Hamas. He is one of the architectural engineers of the massive and convoluted underground tunnel system that allows Hamas to get inside Israel from Gaza and move ammunition to and around Gaza.
Marwan Issa, known as the “Shadow Man” because he is Deif’s right-hand man, serves as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Issa is believed to have been intricately engaged with the Oct. 7 operation against Israel.
Khaled Meshaal is considered one of the founders of Hamas. Ismail Haniyeh succeeded him as head of Hamas’ political unit when Meshaal moved to the head of their political bureau. Meshaal lives in Qatar.
On Thursday, Israel claimed to have killed Jehad Mheisen, the head of the Hamas national security forces in an air strike that also killed a number of his family members.
Israel also killed Ayman Nofal, the commander of Hamas’s central armed division in another air strike. Nofal was one of the masterminds of the 2006 kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, who was eventually released after being held in captivity for five years. It took an exchange of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit's freedom.
At least two commanders from the Nukhba, the elite force that spearheaded the Oct 7 attacks in Israel, have been killed.
The IDF has released footage showing an air strike that killed Bilal al Qadr and also claims that it eliminated Ali Qadi in a similar attack.
An operation led by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, located and killed Rafat Harev Hossein Abu Halal, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees’ (PRC) armed wing. The PRC is understood to be the third largest terrorist group in Gaza after Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
A female political leader was also among the targeted. Jamila al-Shanti had established Hamas’s women’s wing. She was the first woman in the Hamas Politburo, and killed in an air strike this past week.
WIDER PORTRAIT OF CONFLICTS
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, has updated a web page called Israel-Hamas war (Iran updates) every day since the attack in Israel on Oct. 7.
It lists the activities of Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorists in the region.
Its brush paints a portrait of wider geographical battles beyond Gaza.
From the morning of Oct 7, Iranian-backed militia laden with ammunition have been moving towards Israel’s borders.
“Twenty attacks from Lebanon into Israeli territory… Hezbollah recalling its cadres from abroad… clashes on the West Bank up by 470 per cent… Iranian-backed militias in Iraq hitting US troops … up to 500 Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces arrived in Syria and Lebanon…” – the list continues.
Sources seem to agree on one notion. Evidence suggests that for more than a year, Iran has been organizing disparate militias it has funded across the Levant and has moved them towards a more strategic and tight formation.
Iran even refers to them as “axis of resistance” or “resistance front”.
Esmail Qaani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, the division of its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is the man responsible for this strategic clandestine operation.
Qaani has been on the move to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon repeatedly.
A war room has been created in Beirut consisting of Palestinians, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and the IRGC. They have expanded into Syria for further co-ordination.
No doubt about it, the Israel-Hamas war is further driving Palestinian militia coordination in the West Bank.
Ten days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) arrested 440 Palestinians in the West Bank—including 220 Hamas-affiliated Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry noted that Israeli security forces killed 41 West Bank Palestinians between October 7 and October 17. The UN stated that the week of October 14 was the deadliest week for Palestinians in the territory since at least 2005.
Since Oct. 7, Israeli troops have raided several West Bank homes. One in particular was that of Saleh al-Aruri, the Deputy to Hamas’s overall leader Ismail Haniyeh and one of the founders of the Islamist terror group’s military wing.
Several of Aruri's family members were detained in the West Bank. Saleh al-Aruri is believed to be residing in Lebanon.
Troops entered Aruri’s home about 12 miles north of Ramallah, and arrested more than 20 people, including one of Aruri’s brothers and nine of his nephews. Dozens more were questioned.
Hundreds more Palestinians have been arrested across the West Bank, as well as hundreds affiliated with Hamas. The IDF demolished the home of Hamas terrorist Maher Shalloun in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp. He was charged with killing dual American-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles in February.
Israel is claiming the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group has been paying “a heavy price” for its missile, rockets, and shooting attacks against Israeli military sites, troops, and Israeli towns in northern Israel along the border with Lebanon
“Hezbollah has decided to participate in the fighting, we are exacting a heavy price from it,” Israeli Defense Minister Gallant told his troops at the 91st territorial division base, at the Biranit camp on the Lebanon border.
More than 13 Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes in southern Lebanon in the past two weeks.
“I assume that the challenges will become greater [than they are now], and you have to take this into account, to be ready, like a spring, for any situation,” Gallant told his troops.
Two Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) attacks in northern Israel killed at least one IDF soldier and wounded three more. The IDF soldier killed in action on October 20 marks the sixth IDF soldier killed in action on the Israel-Lebanon border since October 7.
Lebanese Hezbollah released a statement on October 19 that warned that violation of “Lebanon’s security” will not go unanswered, which suggests that LH will continue to respond to Israeli airstrikes that the IDF conducts in response to LH attacks.
LH targeted IDF positions with two Kornet anti-tank guided missiles near Natua and Barnit in retaliation for IDF's shelling of southern Lebanon. The attack killed one IDF soldier and wounded another, according to LH. The IDF responded with airstrikes against LH positions. At least one unspecified militant infiltrated Israel on October 20 for the first time since October 13 near Margoliot, seriously injuring one IDF soldier.
LH conducted 18 attacks targeting civilian and military infrastructure in northern Israel on October 20, which is consistent with its rate of attacks since October 15.
There have been between three and five attacks daily between October 12 and October 14. Since October 15, there have been between nine and 20 attacks targeting northern Israel daily.
The IDF intercepted an unspecified drone crossing the Israel-Lebanon border near the Upper Galilee region on October 20.
At the same time, Iran has been pushing its proxies to focus on ground assaults like those executed by Hamas on Oct 7.
In an interview published on their Supreme Leader’s website in August last year, Major General Hossein Salami, the IRGC commander, called for “infantry” in the West Bank to pursue more ground operations against Israeli security forces.
As these groups now prepare in Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, questions are being asked, not just about how Israeli intelligence misread Hamas’s intentions, but about what happens once the Israel Defense Forces' full ground invasion moves into Gaza.
That move could ignite a much wider regional conflict.
By Iran’s own account, it will be a “multi-dimensional war,” not only contained on one front but on multiple fronts. The north, the south and the west.
This past week, cruise missiles flew up the Red Sea from Yemen.
The US has two aircraft battle groups in the Mediterranean signaling a “strong deterrence” to state and non-state actors thinking of joining the conflict.
Protestors took to the streets in the West Bank, in Washington, DC on Capitol Hill and inside the Cannon Office Building. Demonstrators flooded the streets in Beirut, Lebanon, Amman, Jordan, Yemen, London and beyond. An explosive device went off near the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, but did not cause significant damage. Four Syrians were detained on suspicious involvement.
And, then there is Iran and its fostering of the “Axis of Resistance.”
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq - an umbrella group of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias - targeted US forces stationed at Al Harir Air Base in Iraqi Kurdistan on October 20 in a drone attack, claiming to have launched two drones targeting the air base and reported that both drones “hit their target.”
They attacked the al Tanf Garrison and Conoco Mission Support Site in Syria on October 18 and 19.
Iranian-backed Iraqi groups are currently behaving as if the United States has crossed their red line. Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Mohammad Bagheri warned on October 19 that continued Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip could force “other actors,” including “resistance groups,” to engage in the conflict.
IRGC-QF Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani warned Syrian President Bashar al Assad during his visit to Syria on 15 October that Iran intends to use Syria as a second front if the Israel-Hamas war expands geographically.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) began directing militias to the southwestern Syrian border immediately after the Hamas-led attack into Israel on October 7. Iranian officials have since messaged that a multi-front war against Israel is becoming more likely.
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