Israel army releases video purportedly showing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in tunnel

Israel has accused Mr Sinwar of being the mastermind behind the terror attack on October 7

An image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army shows what they say is Hamas's chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, walking in a tunnel, in the Gaza Strip. AFP
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Israel's army has released a video that it said was of Hamas's chief Yahya Sinwar, filmed on October 10, with members of his family in a tunnel in Gaza.

The black and white images show a man alleged to be Mr Sinwar, being led through a tunnel together with a woman and three children. The footage is said to be the first of him since Israel’s war on Gaza broke out.

Israel accuses Mr Sinwar of masterminding the unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the war, now in its fifth month.

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

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

“This is how he escaped with his family from an underground tunnel to a secured complex he had built in advance,” Mr 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.”

It was unclear from the footage where the tunnel was located, but in recent weeks the Israeli military has pounded Khan Younis, southern Gaza's main city and Mr Sinwar's hometown.

Mr 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 1,160 people, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas and launched a military campaign in Gaza that has killed at least 28,473 people, mostly women and children, Palestinian health authorities said.

Earlier this month, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Mr Sinwar was “moving from hideout to hideout” and was no longer leading the group's military operations in Gaza.

“He has now become a terrorist on the run from being the leader of Hamas” in the Palestinian territory, Mr Gallant said, without elaborating on Mr Sinwar's presumed current location.

Mr Sinwar joined Hamas when Sheikh Ahmad Yassin founded the group in 1987, during the start of the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, against Israeli occupation.

Earlier in December, Israel placed a bounty of $400,000 on the head of Mr Sinwar, dropping leaflets in the Gaza Strip offering cash rewards for information leading to his capture and other commanders of the Palestinian militant group.

Updated: February 14, 2024, 6:34 AM