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Meet Hamas' key leaders, many on Israel's target list in Gaza

Hamas has a complicated and fragmented leadership structure. The militant components of the group have become more powerful in comparison to the political ones in recent years, in part due to Iranian influence.
Yahya Sinwar (3rd R), the new Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, and senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh (4th R) sit among other Hamas officials during a memorial for Mazen Faqha, a leader of the Islamist movement who was shot dead in Gaza by unknown gunmen, Gaza City, Gaza Strip, March 27, 2017.

Hamas’ unprecedented and deadly incursion in southern Israel on Oct. 7 brought the group to new levels of prominence in the region and internationally. Hamas’ leadership structure amid the ongoing war with Israel in the Gaza Strip is complex, but a closer look reveals who is in charge of what. 

Hamas’ organizational structure is divided into the military wing — Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades — and the political wing, known as the political bureau. The latter makes political decisions and has no authority over the military wing. The Shura Council oversees the work of the political and military wings. Hamas’ presence is further divided geographically into apparatuses in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Israeli prisons and abroad, such as Lebanon. 

Mohammed Deif

Day-to-day military decisions are made by the military wing's general military council. Mohammed Deif is the overall leader of the brigades and believed to be the mastermind of the Oct. 7 attacks. There are no public photos of Deif, he is secretive and only does audio recordings on occasion. One such recording was released at the start of the recent attack on Israel. Deif has survived at least five assassination attempts by Israel. 

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