White House: Hamas No. 2 Leader Marwan Issa Dead After Strike


White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed Monday that Hamas’ no. 2 military leader Marwan Issa died in an Israeli air strike, addressing reporters after a high-stakes call between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he said Biden pressed for an “end game” and criticized plans to invade Rafah as a “mistake.”

President Joe Biden pleaded with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a “coherent and … [+] sustainable strategy” to end the war in Gaza.

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Key Facts

Issa’s death marks the highest-ranking leader of the Gaza-based militant group to die since Israel’s war with Hamas began on Oct. 7.

According to Sullivan, Biden told Netanyahu that Israel has the “right to go after Hamas,” but expressed concern over the rising death toll in Gaza and called Israel’s planned ground operation in Rafah, where Palestinians had been seeking refuge, a “mistake.”

Sullivan said Biden also called on Israel to create a “clear, strategic end game” for the war, though he did not get into the details on a potential plan.

Netanyahu confirmed the call in a post on X, saying the two leaders “discussed the latest developments in the war,” including Israel’s stated goals of eliminating Hamas, freeing the hostages taken by the militant group on its Oct. 7 attack, and “ensuring that Gaza never [again] constitutes a threat to Israel while providing necessary humanitarian aid that will assist in achieving these goals.”


While Biden has increased the volume on his concerns over rising civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave, he’s far from the first—or loudest—U.S. politician to call on Israel to scale down or even end its military operation. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged Israel to hold new elections, arguing Netanyahu had “lost his way” and that any hopes of a post-war two-state solution have been thrown into jeopardy by “radical right-wing Israelis,” as well as Hamas and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu slammed Schumer’s comments as “totally inappropriate.” Western leaders have also pushed for a cease-fire or a pause in the fighting in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to safely pass into the territory, and while a temporary cease-fire was reached in November, negotiations for a longer stop in the fighting have so far fallen flat, with Israel and Hamas failing to reach an agreement. Those talks only resumed last week, after Netanyahu approved an invasion of Rafah.

Big Number

More than 31,000. That’s how many Palestinians have died in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry.


Issa joins a group of Hamas officials and military leaders killed by Israeli troops since the war began, including Saleh Al-Arouri, Abu Anas Al-Ghandour, Wael Rajeb, Aiman Siam and Rafet Salman. At Monday’s press conference, Sullivan said U.S. officials believe Hamas’ leading officials remain in hiding, “likely deep in the Hamas tunnel network.” The group’s top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is still believed to be at large.

Further Reading

No. 2 Hamas Military Leader Possibly Dead After Israeli Air Strike (Forbes)

Chuck Schumer Calls For New Israeli Elections, Says Netanyahu ‘Lost His Way’ (Forbes)

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