IDF: Troops raze Gaza City hideout belonging to Sinwar, large tunnel system below it

Army revelation is latest in string related to Hamas leader who continues to evade capture, robbing Israel of morale-boosting operational victory sought since war began 12 weeks ago

This image from video shows a Hamas tunnel under an apartment near Gaza City believed to have been used as a hideout by Yahya Sinwar, in a video published by the IDF on December 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)
This image from video shows a Hamas tunnel under an apartment near Gaza City believed to have been used as a hideout by Yahya Sinwar, in a video published by the IDF on December 29, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF said Friday that its troops had located and demolished a hideout apartment belonging to Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar in the north of the enclave along with a large tunnel system underneath it.

The IDF has claimed to be closing in on Sinwar for weeks, but the terror chief continues to evade capture, robbing Israel of the morale-boosting operational victory it has sought since the war began three months ago.

The hideout apartment was located Friday on the outskirts of Gaza City by the 14th Reserve Armored Brigade. It was later investigated by the elite Yahalom combat engineering unit, which found a tunnel shaft.

The IDF said it found significant evidence in the apartment that led to its conclusion that Sinwar had used it as a hideout.

The tunnel shaft was some 20 meters deep, and led to a 218-meter-long tunnel with several branches, according to the IDF.

The underground passages featured electricity, air filtration systems, plumbing, resting and prayer rooms, and other equipment aimed at allowing senior Hamas members to remain hidden for long periods.

The tunnel was later destroyed by combat engineers, the IDF said.

On Monday, Sinwar issued his first public statement since October 7, expressing defiance while grossly inflating his terror group’s achievements in the war.

A day earlier, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a renewed threat against Sinwar, saying the Hamas leader will soon “meet the barrels of our guns.”

On December 18, Hebrew media reported that IDF troops had twice managed to reach tunnels in Gaza in recent days where they believed Sinwar was hiding just before they arrived.

On December 14, a senior Biden administration official told reporters it was “safe to say” that Sinwar’s “days are numbered.”

Sinwar is believed to be hiding in Khan Younis, after fleeing the north of the Strip by hiding in a humanitarian convoy heading south early in the terror group’s war with Israel.

He was sentenced to four life sentences by Israel in 1989 for planning the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians but was released 22 years later as part of the deal Israel made for the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Yaha Sinwar (C), Gaza Strip chief of the Hamas terror group, shakes hands with a Hamas gunman during a rally marking the 35th anniversary of the group’s foundation, in Gaza City on December 14, 2022. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Sinwar has been accused of overseeing the preparations and planning for the October 7 onslaught, during which thousands of Hamas-led terrorists poured into Israel from the land, air and sea, killing more than 1,200 people and seizing some 240 hostages.

In response to the attack, the deadliest in the country’s history, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from Gaza and end their 16-year rule and launched an aerial campaign and subsequent ground operation.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Friday at least 21,507 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since war with Israel broke out nearly 12 weeks ago, including 187 fatalities over the past 24 hours. A statement from the ministry added that 55,915 people have been wounded in Gaza during the fighting.

Figures issued by the ministry cannot be independently verified and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

According to IDF assessments, some 8,500 terror operatives have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: