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Hunt for Sinwar: Elusive Hamas leader stays one step ahead of Israel, holds contact to outside world - report

Only two or three people know the whereabouts of Hamas leader, according to report

Yahya Sinwar, one of the main Hamas leaders (Left photo: Screenshot from IDF video, right photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90).

After more than eight months of fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel continues to hunt for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, the mastermind and leader of the Hamas invasion and massacre on Oct. 7.

Israel’s leadership has stated explicitly that capturing or killing Sinwar was among the war’s main goals.

While IDF officials claimed Israeli soldiers narrowly missed him several times in the first months of the fighting, in recent months, there have been fewer of these reports as the army reduced its forces in Gaza.

Sinwar is estimated to be constantly in transit inside Hamas’ underground tunnel system, each time moving to a different area when IDF troops advance into a new town or neighborhood.

In February, the IDF published footage showing Sinwar and his family moving through tunnels under his hometown of Khan Younis, the first time the Israeli public has seen the face of the arch-terrorist since the massacre he directed.

A report published on Tuesday in the Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat shed new light on Sinwar’s activities in recent months, with informed sources, both within and without Hamas, saying he hasn’t been cut off from communication even while constantly escaping Israeli troops, contrary to earlier reports.

The sources also refused to specify whether Sinwar was hiding above or below the ground.

“A very small circle of no more than two or three people at most know his whereabouts and provide for his various needs, as well as ensuring his communication with the movement’s leaders inside and outside,” the sources said.

Sinwar was reportedly continuously informed and studied each new hostage deal proposal before transmitting his response. However, the report didn’t specify how the Hamas leader was able to communicate while underground or whether he used envoys to relay messages indirectly.

The Hamas leader in Gaza reportedly even sent condolences and strengthening messages to Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Qatar, after Israeli strikes killed three of his sons who were en route to carry out terror operations.

The report confirmed that Israel attempted to assassinate many of Hamas’ senior leaders, noting that while some survived the strikes, Sinwar has not yet been directly targeted.

Despite the possibility that Israel might offer the Hamas leadership the option of going into exile as part of a deal to end the war, sources close to Sinwar told Asharq Al-Awsat that Sinwar aims to either secure an “honorable exchange deal,” or accept death.

“In his mind, there are no other options. Such a proposal (removal from Gaza) is fundamentally unacceptable for discussion for Sinwar, and he cannot consider it.”

“Because of the many years he spent in Israeli prisons, he understands the thinking of the Israelis and their leaders well, and therefore he manages many aspects of the battle politically, especially during the negotiations and the conditions involved that must be paid attention to,” the sources added.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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