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Yahya Sinwar lost contact with Hamas leaders ‘weeks ago’ – report

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Yahya Sinwar, leader of the Palestinian Hamas terrorist movement, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City. May 24, 2021.(photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)
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“I assess beyond a doubt that he is in Khan Yunis – along with some of the remaining Hamas leadership,” the officer said.

Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, lost contact with fellow terror leaders “weeks ago,” KAN News reported on Thursday, and was not involved in Hamas’s response to the hostage deal and ceasefire proposal. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js">

Israeli forces are “peeling back” Hamas infrastructure in Khan Yunis, more than two months after entering the Gaza Strip’s main southern city, and believe the terror group’s Gaza chief is hiding there, a senior military officer told Reuters on Thursday.

However, multiple sources have stressed to the Jerusalem Post that Sinwar is hiding in the southern city of Rafah.

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Progress in Khan Yunis has prompted Israel to describe Rafah, further to the south and abutting Gaza’s border with Egypt, as next in line for a ground sweep by troops and tanks.

The majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are now sheltering in the area since being displaced from elsewhere in four months of fighting, afraid they are next in the line of fire.

The situation in Rafah watched by Cairo

The situation in Rafah – after Khan Yunis, the biggest southern city – is also being watched by Cairo, which has ruled out allowing any refugee influx across the fence into its Sinai peninsula.

A senior Israeli military officer said Khan Yunis operations to destroy Hamas and retrieve any hostages who might be held there would continue “whether it will take two hours, or two days, or two weeks or two months – or even more.”

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Israeli troops have killed 2,000 gunmen, wounded 4,000, and captured “hundreds” more, the officer told Reuters on condition of anonymity. That had largely demolished Hamas’ Khan Yunis Brigade, whose pre-war strength was five battalions, he said.

This could not be independently verified. Hamas has seldom published its deployments or losses.

“The Khan Yunis Brigade was the most powerful that Hamas had, with a very dominant commander,” the officer said. “We are peeling it back, layer by layer.”

Attacks by Palestinian gunmen were increasingly scattershot, suggesting a loss of command and control, the officer said. Hamas says its ambushes continue to inflict Israeli casualties.

Khan Yunis is the hometown of Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, mastermind of the Oct. 7 killing and kidnapping spree in southern Israel that sparked the war.

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‘No doubt’ that Yahya Sinwar is in Khan Yunis

“I assess beyond a doubt that he is in Khan Yunis – along with some of the remaining Hamas leadership,” the officer said.
The military has published images of what is said were Hamas tunnels uncovered in Khan Yunis, with white-tiled living spaces and barred cells assumed to have held hostages.

The officer side-stepped a question on whether the tunnels were extensive enough to allow senior Hamas figures to slip out of Khan Yunis and evade Israel’s dragnet. “You can move quite a few kilometers (underground),” he said without elaborating.

The military says 228 soldiers have been killed and 1,314 wounded in Gaza Strip ground operations that began on Oct 20, figures that did not specify casualties from Khan Yunis.

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