ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Report: Hamas leader Sinwar met hostages from Israel in Gaza tunnel

Freed Israeli hostage tells family that terror chief assured group they were ‘in the most protected place,’ speaking near-unaccented Hebrew he learned in prison

Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, speaks during a protest east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)
Yahya Sinwar, leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, speaks during a protest east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip on April 6, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)

Hamas terror chief Yahya Sinwar spoke to Israeli hostages as they were being held underground inside Gaza following their October 7 abduction amid the terror group’s shock assault on Israel, according to Hebrew-language media reports Monday.

Sinwar, the terror group’s leader in Gaza, spoke to the hostages in near-accentless Hebrew in a bid to reassure them after they were dragged into Gaza on October 7, and over 1,200 people were massacred by Hamas and other terrorists in and around their home communities, Channel 12 news reported, citing information from a recently released hostage.

The meeting took place in a tunnel, the channel reported, shortly after the slaughter, in which 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the border and rampaged across southern Israel, taking over 240 hostages.

“Hello, I am Yahya Sinwar. You are the most protected here. Nothing will happen to you,” Sinwar told the group, according to the report.

A hostage who was present recounted the incident to family and also briefed security officials, who confirmed the story, Channel 12 said.

According to an unsourced report in Haaretz Monday, the hostages who heard Sinwar were all from Nir Oz, a kibbutz that suffered heavy losses and dozens of abductions on October 7.

Hadas Calderon holds pictures of her children, two of whom are held captive by Hamas, Kibbutz Nir Oz, October 30, 2023. (Carrie Keller-Lynn / The Times of Israel)

The terror leader, who is believed to have planned and authorized the October 7 atrocities, learned Hebrew in Israeli prison after he was convicted in 1989 of leading the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers, as well as four Palestinians he suspected of working with Israel. He was given four life sentences but was released in 2011 as part of the deal to return captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Last year, Betty Lahat, a former warden of Hasharon Prison and head of the Israel Prison Service’s Intelligence Department, told the Maariv newspaper that Sinwar used his time in jail to learn as much as he could about Israelis.

“He’s a very intelligent person who invested in his intellectual development and in an in-depth understanding of Israeli society,” she said.

A tunnel troops found inside a home in northern Gaza. The entrance was hidden underneath a bed in a children’s room, November 7, 2023. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

Sinwar is known for his fiery rhetoric and for cheering terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank.

He was chosen to lead Hamas in Gaza in 2017, taking over from Ismail Haniyeh.

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