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The military leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, believes that the Palestinian militant group has the upper hand over Israel in the war in Gaza, according to leaked messages obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Sinwar was quoted as saying, “We have the Israelis right where we want them,” indicating a desire for the conflict to continue. The messages reviewed by the WSJ show Sinwar expressing a willingness to continue the fight and suggesting that civilian deaths in previous conflicts were “necessary sacrifices.”

As Israel prepared to enter Rafah in February, Sinwar urged Hamas’ political leaders not to make concessions and instead push for a permanent end to the war. He warned that Israel’s journey in Rafah “won’t be a walk in the park,” indicating confidence in Hamas’ capabilities. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded to the report by accusing Sinwar of profiting off Gazan civilian deaths and urging international pressure on Israel.

Mediators are currently waiting for a Hamas response to an Israeli proposal presented by President Joe Biden last month. The proposal aims to release hostages in Gaza and implement a ceasefire. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that the US believes Sinwar is the ultimate decision-maker for Hamas. He said that Hamas’ response to the proposal will reveal the group’s priorities and intentions.

Sinwar expressed surprise at the brutality of the October 7 attack on Israel in early messages to ceasefire negotiators. He was reportedly unhappy about not being consulted for a meeting between Hamas political leaders and other Palestinian factions, calling it “shameful and outrageous.” Despite disagreements within Hamas, Sinwar expressed a commitment to continuing the fight in Gaza.

The United Nations Security Council endorsed a US-drafted resolution aimed at ending the conflict in Gaza. The comprehensive peace deal lays out conditions for the release of hostages, a permanent ceasefire, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces. Hamas welcomed the resolution and expressed readiness to engage with mediators to implement measures outlined in the plan. The resolution was supported by 14 out of 15 UNSC members, with Russia abstaining. International pressure is increasing on both Hamas and Israel to end the conflict.

The UNSC resolution indicates that Israel has accepted the peace plan, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made contradicting public statements. Despite the challenges, the resolution represents a significant step towards resolving the conflict in Gaza. Hamas’ response to the plan will be crucial in moving towards a peaceful resolution and bringing security to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

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