Since his remarkable and unprecedented appearance on the “What is Hidden is Greater” program broadcast last night by Al-Jazeera channel, the name of Marwan Issa, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the military arm of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) – has jumped to the fore of attention in Gaza and the Arab world, and even The Israeli media.
Who is Marwan Issa? How did he reach this rank in the resistance? Why is the spearhead described as the “brain war” against Israel?
Marwan Issa, who was nicknamed “Abu al-Bara”, was born in 1965 to a refugee family from the town of Beit Tima near the city of Majdal during the Nakba in 1948.
In his youth, he was a skilled athlete in the game of “basketball”, terrifying his presence in the stadiums, and according to what was reported by the “Al-Aqsa Sports” website – affiliated with Hamas – he was nicknamed the “Palestine Commando”, and he had tours and tours in the basketball courts within the “Service Club” team. Al-Bureij” in the camp, which was born and raised between its alleys and streets.
Despite his brilliance in this sport, Marwan did not write to complete his athletic path, and retired due to his arrest again by Israel, and then for a few years by the Palestinian Authority, which was released from its prisons with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000.
Local sources say that Issa was a polite young man who was disciplined in all his life affairs, whether inside or outside the stadiums.
Marwan Issa..the military and political
Marwan Issa moved from the basketball courts to the arenas of resistance and fighting the occupation, and rose to become the second man in the leadership of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Deputy Chief of Staff, Muhammad Al-Deif, and succeeding Ahmed Al-Jabari, who was assassinated by Israel in 2012.
In addition to his military role, he is a member of the Hamas political bureau, and is considered the link between the political and military levels in the movement.
Last March, after the internal movement elections in the Gaza Strip, Hamas published a picture of the winners of its political bureau membership in its new session, in which Issa made sure to stand in the back row while covering his face with a mask, unlike everyone around him.
The Israeli military analyst, Amir Boukhbut, explained that he was keen to hide his facial features, and this was not a protection against the Corona virus.
Boukhbut devoted a lengthy report published by the Wella website, which is close to the Israeli intelligence services, last March, in which he recounted the journey of Issa, who said about him that he “infant hate for Israel since his birth”, and joined Hamas at the age of 19, and was included in its organizational ranks until he became Today he stands behind “not a small part” of the decisions of the Al-Qassam Brigades, independently or in consultation with Yahya Sinwar, the movement’s leader in Gaza.
An Israeli security official was quoted as saying that “Marwan Issa is so smart that he can turn plastic into metal,” and he is “a man of actions, not words, and from here is the source of his strength. He has proven to everyone that when he counts, he fulfills.”
And when Israel arrested him in the 1990s as part of a campaign of arrests of Hamas activists, Issa clearly appeared as a “very tough man.”
According to the Israeli military analyst, Issa embraced the thought of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the occupation cells, joined it as an active member, and began to climb to the top, then with the passage of days he became part of the Hamas leadership and its military apparatus.
After his release from the prisons of the authority with the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Issa played a pivotal role in moving the Qassam Brigades from semi-military cells organized on the basis of a military structure, to battalions, units and brigades according to a clear administrative hierarchy.
Over the years, Issa has developed on two levels: the first is the gradual gradation in the organization, and the second is the technical-industrial axis, according to the Israeli military report.
Brain war and assassination attempts
Given his main role in the prisoner exchange deal popularly known as the “Shalit deal” in 2011 alongside Jabari, Marwan Issa knows that he is in the Israeli targeting circle, and therefore he moves in complete secrecy, and his form is unknown to the majority of Gaza residents who weave tales about the heroism of the man who led – Alongside the Commander-in-Chief of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Al-Deif – the recent war on Gaza, which the resistance calls the “Battle of the Sword of Jerusalem”.
It is noteworthy that Israeli reports revealed about two months before the last aggression that “the next war against Hamas will be harsh and painful for the Israeli army and the home front,” and that this war “will be different and full of surprises, not only at the naval and air levels, but especially at the technological level and the development of means Special combat.
Al-Qassam Brigades showed during the 11 days of the last war that they had made qualitative leaps in terms of missile development, in terms of range, destructive power and launch rates.
Israeli security and intelligence reports place Marwan Issa among the most prominent officials responsible for the development of the brigades’ military capabilities, and that as long as he is alive, what they describe as the “brain war” between Hamas and Israel will continue.