Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

SURVIVAL for thousands of innocent civilians in the apocalyptic hell of Gaza now rests on the fate of one man.

While he still lives, Yahya Sinwar — dubbed the “Bin Laden of Hamas” who masterminded the October 7 terrorist outrage — will be the focus of Israel’s relentless mission to root him out.

Yahya Sinwar dubbed the ‘Bin Laden of Hamas’ masterminded the October 7 massacreRex

Palestinian civilians now hate Sinwar for sparking the mayhem which Hamas itself says has killed at least 18,600 peopleTwitter

And the symbolic triumph of his eventual death could be enough to halt the bloody blitz of the besieged enclave, experts say.

Moreover, the bullet, bomb or knife in the back that finally ends his life and cools Gaza’s cauldron of suffering seems increasingly likely to come from one of the Hamas leader’s own people.

Palestinians are finally turning on him for triggering the war with Israel which has torn apart their territory and devastated their lives.

Sinwar, 61, who planned the October 7 massacre of 1,200 in Israel and the kidnapping of 240 more, already knows he is a dead man walking.

But as he skulks in a fortified bunker — probably beneath his besieged home city of Khan Younis in the south of the strip — Sinwar is no doubt looking over his shoulder like never before.

Innocent Palestinian civilians who he has been happy to sacrifice in their thousands as “martyrs” are now openly calling for his head.

They hate Israel — but now hate Sinwar just as much for sparking the mayhem which Hamas itself says has killed at least 18,600 people.

A TV news crew venturing into the blitzed enclave in recent days was amazed to hear locals venting their rage at Sinwar for the first time.

One Gazan civilian said: “We are tired, it’s enough, I don’t have any breath left in me. What resolution? Just give up and surrender. This is the act of idiots. He caused the death of his own people — Sinwar has killed his own people.”

Posters in Arabic have also appeared across Gaza offering a big cash reward for his death.

Translated, they read: “Bring the head of the snake Yahya Sinwar to an Israeli soldier and receive a compensation of 100k shekels (£21,000), including protection for your family.”

Another read: “Our offer for work in Gaza close to home (for those who remain): 100 thousand NIS (shekels) for Sinwar’s head.

“The head must be handed over to the nearest IDF soldier.”

And Yousef al-Mansi, former Hamas communications minister, has even dubbed Sinwar a “madman” who “destroyed the Gaza Strip”.

Al-Mansi surrendered to Israel and is reported to have raged to Israeli Shin Bet intelligence officers about Sinwar: “A madman threw a big stone.

“This is a group of madmen that Sinwar leads.

“They destroyed the Gaza Strip. They set it back 200 years.”

With Sinwar and his inner circle of bodyguards thought to be holed up in their fortified underground command post beneath Khan Younis, this week Israel began a strategy of pumping millions of gallons of Mediterranean seawater into Hamas’s 300-mile network of tunnels.

Cash reward

And engineers estimate the underground maze could be inundated by Christmas — and that Sinwar and his henchmen will end up being flushed out.

So if he is not drowned, he is likely to be cut down by Israeli commandos following strict orders not to take him alive.

But their job may yet be done for them by waves of Israel Defence Forces war planes.

The US has sent more than 100 2,000lb Blu-109 bunker-buster bombs, plus 500lb satellite-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs to turn the Hamas tunnels into tombs.

The bombs, boosted by rocket motors, power their way underground once their target’s location is pinpointed and can penetrate six feet of reinforced concrete before exploding.

The IDF’s own sophisticated Spike guided missiles — which can loiter near targets before being directed to smash bunkers — have also been deployed for surgical strikes on command posts.

Israel’s spies and a growing band of informants on the ground are said to be laser-focused on pinpointing Sinwar’s location.

And their efforts have been stepped up in recent days as allies including Britain and the US pressured Israel to find an exit strategy from the war to halt the awful civilian toll.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his people in the wake of the kibbutz massacres that his forces would annihilate Hamas.

But only around 6,000 of Sinwar’s followers have been killed so far, and experts accept it would be virtually impossible to wipe out the 30- to 40,000 terror troops under his command.

The constant bombing and its resulting huge civilian toll also threatens to recruit a new, even bigger generation of angry young men committed to Hamas’s cause.

And Israeli military commanders and politicians — urged by increasingly anxious US President Joe Biden — are now under huge pressure to call a halt.

But first they need an achievable victory — and killing Sinwar to cut off the “head of the Hamas snake” is now the trophy that they crave most.

Analysts say his death could lay the foundations for a new ceasefire like last month’s seven-day truce which led to scores of hostage releases.

Sinwar already knows he is a dead man walkingRex

Latest estimates suggest 20 of the 132 Israeli captives still in Gaza have been murdered or have died in appalling conditions as Israeli forces close in on Hamas’s lairs.

But a new and possibly longer ceasefire could hold, on condition that all remaining hostages are set free, with bodies repatriated, while vital aid and medical supplies are sent in.

Vital aid

Biden’s administration is understood to have given Israel until the end of January to complete its ground operations in Gaza.

Israelis still reeling from the orgy of murder, rape, kidnapping and mutilations that took place on October 7 are understandably refusing to allow outsiders to call the shots now.

But the death toll of IDF troops — now at 117, including ten who died in a single ambush on Tuesday — will rise as long as armoured divisions continue to occupy the Hamas stronghold.

And a tactical switch to raids targeting remaining Hamas leaders is now certain to replace full-scale occupation.

Defence analyst Paul Beaver told The Sun: “There is no question that Israel needs a victory to offer both its own people and the US to stop the awful civilian toll.

“And the head of Yahya Sinwar looks increasingly like a win-win.

“Getting him would give Netanyahu a great opportunity to take pressure off himself by de- escalating while continuing to carry out raids to target remaining Hamas leaders.

“But he has been warned he probably has to achieve this by December and time is running out.

“It’s true to say the lives of thousands of innocent people could now depend on one man’s death.”

The hunt for Sinwar intensified further yesterday as the US confirmed it was urging Israel to focus precise targeting of Hamas leaders rather than widespread bombing in Gaza.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in Tel Aviv yesterday that he had discussed a tactical switch with Netanyahu.

He added: “When exactly that happens and under exactly what conditions will be a continuing intensive discussion between the United States and Israel.”

But after the meetings, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant revealed that he had warned Mr Sullivan the battle to wipe out Hamas would last “more than several months”.

@JoeTruzman / XPosters in Arabic have also appeared across Gaza offering a big cash reward for Sinwar’s death[/caption]

Hostage 3 killed by Israel

By Daniel Hammond and Nick Parker

ISRAEL says its troops killed three of its own hostages who were being held in Gaza after they were “mistakenly identified as a threat”.

Two were identified as Yotam Haim and Samer Talalka, who were kidnapped from kibbutzes.

Israel says its troops killed three of its own hostages as they were ‘mistakenly identified as a threat’

APBenjamin Netanyahu said seven arrests had been made by Danish security services after his intelligence chiefs raised the alarm[/caption]

The third hostage’s family asked for their name not to be revealed.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) last night said the incident, in the Gaza City district of Shejaiya, is under investigation and the bodies have been transferred to Israeli territory for examination.

The IDF said “immediate lessons” were learned from the deaths and the force “expresses deep remorse” and “heartfelt condolences”.

More than 100 Israeli hostages remain in captivity in Gaza after being captured in the October 7 attacks.

Meanwhile three suspected Hamas terrorists have been arrested in Berlin and another in Rotterdam after investigators smashed an alleged plot to attack Jews in Germany and Denmark.

And Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said seven arrests had been made by Danish security services after his intelligence chiefs raised the alarm.

The arrests were said to have “thwarted an attack aimed at killing innocent citizens on European soil.”

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen said the arrests were linked to an “extremely serious” terrorist plot but did not give details.

Of the three Berlin arrests, one is Egyptian, the others Lebanese.

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