But Bloomberg writes that Hamas has proven capable of replacing assassinated leadership in the past, and is not apt to be seriously hampered by Rayan's death.
"Israel is mistaken if it thinks that by killing Hamas leaders it will put an end to the group," Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said in a phone interview. "Hamas is a movement that has the support of 35 to 40 percent of the Palestinian people."...
"This is a morale blow to Hamas," said Abusada. "But it isn't going to have a problem finding new leaders. And killing its leaders only makes Hamas more extreme."
The Associated Press (AP) reports that Hamas appears to be withstanding the Israeli assault despite the losses it is suffering. The AP writes that Hamas's media outlets are still broadcasting, and the police, overseen by the Hamas government, still patrol the streets of Gaza.
"Israel has destroyed the buildings, but Hamas is still here," Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas spokesman, said Thursday, the sixth day of the bombing campaign. "There is no anxiety over the existence of Hamas — even if they destroy all of Gaza — because we are among the people."
Hamas' survival will depend on how far Israel is willing to go to obtain its declared objective: crippling the group's ability to fire rockets at Israeli towns and cities. Thousands of Israeli soldiers are amassed on Gaza's border, waiting for the signal to invade.
Yet Israel, which withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, also says it does not want to reoccupy the area. That suggests Hamas will be able to cling to power in Gaza, which it seized by force from moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007.