Hamas chief’s sister killed in Israeli strike

Zahr died along with her husband and children overnight in an attack on Beach Camp, north of Gaza City
Zahr died along with her husband and children overnight in an attack on Beach Camp, north of Gaza City - Anadolu

The sister of Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas political leader, has become his latest family member to be killed in an Israeli strike, the terror group said.

Zahr died along with her husband and children overnight on Monday in an attack on Beach Camp, north of Gaza City.

Basem Naim, the Hamas spokesman, said it took the number of family members of the exiled leader who have been killed to around 100.

Based between Qatar and Turkey, Haniyeh has remained safe from assassination throughout the war with Israel. Qatar remains a key player in negotiations to free Israel’s remaining 120 hostages in Gaza.

But Haniyeh’s family remain in the line of fire. In April, his three sons were killed during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Hazem, Amir and Mohammad died along with several of his grandchildren.

Haniyeh said at the time their “martyrdom” was a symbol of hope. “Through the blood of the martyrs and the pain of the injured, we create hope, we create the future, we create independence and freedom for our people and our nation,” he told Al Jazeera.

Haniyeh with his sister Zahr
Haniyeh with his sister Zahr

At the time, the Israeli military said the three sons were military operatives on their way to “carry out terrorist activities in the central area of the Gaza Strip”. There has so far been no comment on the latest attack.

“The blood of my children is not more valuable than the blood of the children of the Palestinian people … All the martyrs of Palestine are my children,” Haniyeh said at the time of his sons’ killing.

Israel is ‘delusional’

Amid ongoing US-brokered negotiations, which have not progressed since a short temporary ceasefire last year, Haniyeh pointed out the futility of Israel targeting his family.

“If they think that targeting my children at the peak of these talks before the movement’s [Hamas’s] response is submitted will cause Hamas to change its positions, they are delusional,” Haniyeh said in April.

In Israel, where Haniyeh’s sister lives in a quiet Bedouin community in the country’s south, his sister Sabah remains under house arrest charged with affiliations with a terrorist group and incitement to unrest.

It followed messages sent, including to her brother, praising the atrocities of Oct 7. More than 1,200 people were killed by Hamas in Israel, with 250 more taken hostage.

Hamas has denied media claims of relocating its Qatari outpost to Iraq. Reports had suggested the Gulf mediators were pressuring the terror group to leave the gas-rich state if progress was not made on ceasefire talks but Mr Naim said “nothing is true”.

An Israeli member of the hostage negotiation team said: “In the last two months, there have been three such discussions about Qatar forcing Hamas to leave, which so far remain empty threats. We can only understand this to be a means of appeasing the US while no progress is being made with the talks to free the hostages.”