As fighting continued in Gaza's main southern city, Israel said Thursday it was closing in on one of Hamas founders Yahya Sinwar, whom Israeli officials call the architect of the October 7 attacks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement that Israeli forces had surrounded Sinwar's house and that it was “only a matter of time before they find him.”
“Last night I said our troops could go anywhere in the Gaza Strip. They are currently surrounding Sinwar's house. His house is not his castle and he can flee, but it is only a matter of time before we find him,” said Mr Netanyahu, who has vowed to “crush” Hamas over the October 7 attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis , said.
More information >> pic.twitter.com/gzKsAE8Ekn
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) December 6, 2023
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said Sinwar is hiding underground.
“Sinwar is not above ground; he is underground,” said IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari.
“I don't want to elaborate on where and how and what we know in terms of intelligence. This is not the place to talk about such things in the media. Our job is to find Sinwar and kill him,” he added.
Who is Hamas founder Yahya Sinwar?
Yahya Sinwar was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp. The 61-year-old was elected leader of Hamas in Gaza in 2017.
He rose to fame as a ruthless enforcer, the head of the Al-Majd security apparatus that tracked down, killed and punished Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel's secret service before going to jail.
Sinwar was arrested in 1988 and sentenced to consecutive life sentences, accused of planning the kidnap and murder of two Israeli soldiers and the murder of four Palestinians.
According to reports, he is leading negotiations on prisoner and hostage exchanges and, together with Deif and another commander, directing military operations, possibly from bunkers under Gaza.
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A senior Israeli security official recently told reporters that Sinwar had influenced Qatar-mediated talks that led to the ceasefire that ended last week following Israel's release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for dozens of Israeli hostages held in Gaza were held.
Since the start of the war, Israeli forces have killed two members of the ruling Hamas politburo and associates of Sinwar.
Our forces continue to operate against the Hamas leadership in Gaza:
🔴IDF forces have eliminated several Hamas commanders and operatives from the Northern Gaza Strip Brigade – Hamas's second-largest brigade – who were hiding in a tunnel near the Indonesian hospital during the… pic.twitter.com/mydADVsJaX
– Israeli Defense Forces (@IDF) December 6, 2023
(With input from the agency)