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‘Leaderless’ Hamas is scrambling to find a new chief after October 7 orchestrator Yahya Sinwar dropped off the radar, Israel claims


Hamas is leaderless and is scrambling to find a new chief after October 7 orchestrator Yahya Sinwar dropped off the radar, Israel has claimed.

Israel has vowed to wipe out the terror group, but its leader in Gaza will fight to the death rather than surrender or go into exile, according to Hamas and regional officials.

Israel has concentrated its military operations in Khan Yunis, just a few kilometres from Rafah and the hometown of Sinwar.

Defence minister Yoav Gallant said: ‘Hamas’ Gaza operation is unresponsive, without local leadership for dialogue, prompting external leaders to seek a new internal head.’

He added: ‘Hamas does not trust its commanders, this is a very, very noticeable thing.

Israel has concentrated its military operations in Khan Yunis, just a few kilometres from Rafah and the hometown of Hamas's Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, who is accused of orchestrating the October 7 attack

Israel has concentrated its military operations in Khan Yunis, just a few kilometres from Rafah and the hometown of Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, who is accused of orchestrating the October 7 attack

Israel's army released a video last week that it said shows Sinwar, with his family members in a tunnel in the Palestinian territory

Israel’s army released a video last week that it said shows Sinwar, with his family members in a tunnel in the Palestinian territory

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on Monday

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing over Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on Monday

‘The Hamas-Gaza station does not answer, there is no one to talk to as leadership on the ground.

‘That means there is a tender for who will manage Gaza.’

Last week, Israel’s army released a video that it said shows Sinwar with his family members in a tunnel in the Palestinian territory.

The black and white footage, reportedly taken on October 10, show a man said to be Sinwar being led through a tunnel together with a woman and three children are said to be the first of him since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

‘This is how he escaped with his family from an underground tunnel to a secured complex he had built in advance,’ Army spokesman Daniel Hagari said.

‘This video of Sinwar is the result of our hunt. This hunt will not stop until we have captured him dead or alive.’

The IDF says the man circled in red above is Yahya Sinwar in footage reportedly taken on October 10

The IDF says the man circled in red above is Yahya Sinwar in footage reportedly taken on October 10

It was unclear from the footage (pictured above) where the tunnel was located, but in recent weeks the Israeli military has pounded Khan Yunis, southern Gaza's main city and Sinwar's hometown

It was unclear from the footage (pictured above) where the tunnel was located, but in recent weeks the Israeli military has pounded Khan Yunis, southern Gaza’s main city and Sinwar’s hometown

Hagari said the video had been filmed on October 10, three days after Hamas carried out an attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians

Hagari said the video had been filmed on October 10, three days after Hamas carried out an attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians

The authenticity of the video has not been independently verified.

Hagari said Israeli troops had uncovered the video in a security camera during an operation in a tunnel, without elaborating on the location.

‘The footage shows leader of Hamas and mass murderer, Yahya Sinwar, fleeing with his children and one of his wives,’ he told a briefing.

It was unclear from the footage where the tunnel was located.

Hagari said the video had been filmed on October 10, three days after Hamas carried out an attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, with around 250 taken hostage.

Israel’s air, land and sea bombardment of Gaza in response has killed more than 28,000 people since then, Palestinian health officials say.

Sinwar did not expect Israel’s retaliation to the October 7 attack would be ‘so dangerous’, his former prison mate Esmat Mansour said.

Yahya Sinwar, the elected leader of Hamas, appears during a ceremony for fighters killed by Israeli air strikes at Yarmouk football Stadium in Gaza City, on May 24, 2021

Yahya Sinwar, the elected leader of Hamas, appears during a ceremony for fighters killed by Israeli air strikes at Yarmouk football Stadium in Gaza City, on May 24, 2021 

The October 7 Israel massacre by Hamas at a music event saw 1,200 casualties

The October 7 Israel massacre by Hamas at a music event saw 1,200 casualties

Sinwar’s calculations on the effect of Hamas’ deadly incursion into Israel on Black Saturday ‘didn’t go as planned’, and believed the reaction of the Israelis was ‘uncontrolled, without any justification’, according to Mansour.

Mansour told Sky News that his terrorist friend’s plan was miscalculated and gave Israel an excuse to unleash hellfire on Hamas’s Gaza stronghold.

Mansour said: ‘He didn’t expect the operation to make things this complicated and to go as far as it did and become this dangerous and (it) gave Israel all the reasons and excuses to break all the rules.’

Sinwar’s plan was to use the massacre to aid the release of his friend from prison and turn him into another Hamas leader as well as lifting the ‘Israeli siege’ on the area.

The 61-year-old Hamas chief is one down in line from the supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

The high-ranking terrorist, who is fluent in Hebrew, spent two decades in prison before being released in 2011 in a hostage deal.

Sinwar was one of more than 1,000 prisoners in Israeli prison to be released back to Palestine in exchange for just one Israleli solider – Gilad Shalit.

Shalit had been taken by Hamas in 2006 when he was 19 and spent five years held captive.

He was the first hostage soldier to be sent back to Israel alive since 1985.

According to the Financial Times, Israel says Sinwar is a ‘dead man walking’ – if they could find him.

Head of the political wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a meeting in Gaza City on April 30, 2022

Head of the political wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a meeting in Gaza City on April 30, 2022

Deadly fighting raged on in Gaza today after Israel warned that, unless Hamas frees all hostages, it will push on with its offensive during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, including in the far-southern Rafah area.

Global concern has mounted over the fate of 1.4 million Palestinians who have been forced into Rafah near the Egyptian border, enduring bombardment and dire food shortages in crowded makeshift shelters and tents.

Overnight strikes and battles in Gaza killed more than 100 Palestinians, mostly women and children, pushing the death toll past 29,000, said the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory, with fighting heaviest in Khan Yunis, just north of Rafah.

War cabinet member Benny Gantz warned Sunday that the Israeli army is ready to push deeper into Rafah during Ramadan which, based on the lunar calendar, starts around March 10.

‘The world must know, and Hamas leaders must know: if by Ramadan the hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere to include the Rafah area,’ said Gantz, a former military chief of staff.

He added: ‘Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages, and the civilians of Gaza can celebrate the feast of Ramadan.’

Gantz said Israel would allow the evacuation of civilians from Rafah and ‘minimise the civilian casualties’ – but so far it has not specified where Palestinians could flee, with vast swathes of the territory flattened after more than four months of devastating war.

Egypt has stressed it does not want Gazans to flee over the border, arguing this would facilitate an effort to empty Gaza of its Palestinian population – an objective Israel denies.

Satellite images show Egypt has started erecting a walled enclosure parallel to the Gaza border, in an apparent precautionary move in case of a mass refugee flight. 



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