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Israeli national security advisor says IDF nearly caught Sinwar, Hamas leader ‘living on borrowed time’

Hanegbi also says Rafah operation will take place, ‘it could be very soon’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and leader of the Likud party (L) speaks with MK Tzachi Hanegbi during a party meeting in the Israeli parliament on February 8, 2016. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In an interview with Israel's N12’s “Meet the Press” on Saturday evening, National Security Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi claimed that Israel has been “very close” to capturing or eliminating Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar. 

“That man is living on borrowed time, it just needs patience,” Hanegbi said regarding Sinwar. 

The Israeli leader referred to America's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, saying “The Americans waited ten years for Bin Laden, I’m sure that in our case, we won’t need to wait so much time.” 

Sinwar, he added, has been “escaping from burrow to burrow.” 

“We were very close. There are some who say we are still very close. We missed him by a few days. He won’t leave the confrontation alive, his fate is sealed.” 

Hanegbi also blamed Sinwar for delaying the hostage negotiations. 

“It’s probably hard for him to make a decision that could mean the end of Hamas rule,” he said. “The moment he gives up a significant card for his survival, which is our abductees, it’s not easy for him, that’s why things are delayed.” 

Hanegbi responded to reports that Sinwar has become a hero for the Palestinian cause by causing more damage to Israel than any modern figure. 

Calling Sinwar a “Nazi murderer,” Hanegbi stated Sinwar is not someone to be celebrated.

“He caused 40,000 of his own people to be killed, and didn’t care,” Hanegbi said. “14,000 terrorists were killed, which hurts him more.” 

Regarding the IDF's incursion into the southern town of Rafah to eliminate the remaining Hamas battalions, Hanegbi said, “The die has fallen.”

“The prime minister, backed by all cabinet ministers, has ordered the IDF to carry out the operation in Rafah,” Hanegbi stated, adding that it "could be very soon.” 

Hanegbi indicated that while voting in favor of the hostage deal would be difficult for many ministers due to its complexity, it is justified because "it frees living people." He also acknowledged that such a deal would impact the timing of the IDF's operation in Rafah.

Hanegbi explained, "If there is a deal, the deal will require a humanitarian pause in the north, south, and center [of Gaza]." He further clarified that Hamas agreeing to the current deal would lead to a temporary "humanitarian pause for the specified period" while underscoring that it "does not include ending the war because the government’s policy is to complete the war to achieve the goals of the war.” 

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

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