As clashes persisted in Gaza’s primary southern city, Israel announced on Thursday that it was closing in on Yahya Sinwar, one of the founders of Hamas, labeled by Israeli authorities as the mastermind behind the October 7 attacks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in a video message that Israeli forces had surrounded Sinwar’s residence, emphasizing that it was only a matter of time before they apprehended him.
“Last night, I mentioned that our forces can access any part of the Gaza Strip. Currently, they have surrounded Sinwar’s residence. His home is not a fortress, and although he may attempt to flee, it’s just a matter of time until we locate him,” said Mr. Netanyahu, who has pledged to “crush” Hamas in response to the October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,200 Israelis.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported that Sinwar is currently in hiding underground.
“Sinwar is not on the surface; he is underground,” stated IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.
“I won’t go into details about where, how, and what we know in terms of intelligence. This is not the appropriate platform for discussing such matters in the media. Our objective is to find Sinwar and neutralize him,” he added.
Yahya Sinwar, born in the Khan Younis refugee camp, is a 61-year-old who assumed leadership of Hamas in Gaza in 2017. He gained prominence as a stern enforcer, heading the Al-Majd security apparatus, which tracked, eliminated, and punished Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel’s secret service before his incarceration.
Arrested in 1988, Sinwar received consecutive life sentences for planning the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of four Palestinians.
Reports suggest that he is currently leading negotiations for prisoner-hostage swaps and overseeing military operations from bunkers beneath Gaza, alongside Deif and another commander.
A senior Israeli security official recently informed reporters that Sinwar played a significant role in talks mediated by Qatar, leading to the ceasefire that concluded last week, involving the release of over 200 Palestinian prisoners by Israel in exchange for numerous Israeli hostages held in Gaza.
During the ongoing conflict, Israeli forces have eliminated two members of the Hamas ruling politburo and individuals associated with Sinwar.
Meanwhile, Israel continues its military operations against Hamas members in the heart of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza’s main city. Gaza health officials report that over 16,000 people have lost their lives in the Israeli bombardment and ground offensive since the start of the war.