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Israel dismisses report that Hamas leader Sinwar fled through Rafah tunnels into Egypt

Transfer of hostages out of Gaza one of Israel’s main concerns, report claims

Yehya Sinwar, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends a rally marking the anniversary of Land Day, in Gaza City on March 30, 2022. (Photo by Attia Muhammed/Flash90)

Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday denied claims that Israel had information indicating that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and his brother Muhammad had fled the Gaza Strip through tunnels between Rafah and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

The IDF dismissed reports by the Saudi news outlet Elaph, stating: “There is no intelligence information that Yahya Sinwar fled to Egypt.”

The London-based online newspaper cited an Israeli security official claiming Israeli intelligence had indicated senior Hamas leaders, including the Sinwar brothers, fled to Egypt and that Israel was concerned they took hostages with them.

According to the report, Israeli intelligence has been monitoring eight large tunnels that connect Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with the Egyptian side of the border.

The tunnels were allegedly used to smuggle equipment, Iranian-made weapons, and missiles into Gaza, as well as for the transit of Hamas terrorists for training in Lebanon and Iran and could also be used by Hamas leaders to flee the Strip.

Israel is also investigating how Al Jazeera journalist Ismail Abu Omar, who was wounded by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, escaped to Egypt before reaching Qatar for treatment.

In addition to his journalistic pursuits, Abu Omar served as a commander in a Hamas Battalion in Khan Younis and “reported” from inside Israeli territory on Oct. 7, Lt.-Col. Avichay Adraee, the IDF Arabic spokesman, revealed last Wednesday.

According to Elaph, Abu Omar’s name did not appear on the Egyptian authorities' list of people who had coordinated leaving the Gaza Strip in recent days.

The reports came after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday said that Sinwar has not been in contact with the outside world for some time now and that “Hamas is looking for a replacement for Sinwar.”

“Hamas’ Gaza branch is not responding. There is no one to talk to as leadership on the ground and the external leadership is looking for internal leadership. I mean, there is a search for who will manage Gaza, there is no party that is controlling [Gaza] and no party that is functioning,” Gallant stated.

The security establishment in Israel said there is a complete disconnect and lack of communication between the leadership of Hamas in Gaza, led by Yahya Sinwar, and the leadership of Hamas abroad, which sabotages hostage release negotiations.

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

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