Experts Weigh Risk of Killing Hamas Commander

( – Israeli and U.S. officials are confident that they’ve located Hamas commander Yahya Sinwar, the presumed leader of the organization, but are concerned that killing or capturing him could harm hostages nearby, according to reporting from The Washington Post

U.S. intelligence agencies and Israeli military indicate that they believe Sinwar is concealing himself in the network of tunnels beneath Khan Younis, a city in south Gaza. That information comes from anonymous officials in Israel and the U.S. who agreed to speak with the Post. They said that the difficulty wasn’t finding him, but figuring out what to do next.

A senior intelligence official in Israel said that they’re trying to avoid endangering the lives of the hostages who are being kept close to Sinwar.

Israeli leadership has prioritized the capture or killing of Sinwar as one of the goals of their military campaign in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously shot down a ceasefire agreement in early February, claiming Hamas’ position wasn’t serious as their terms were “crazy.” He also said that the eradication of Hamas was necessary to prevent another attack.

Another complication to killing or capturing Sinwar is that he’s hiding out in unmapped tunnels and there are a lot of them. There are hundreds of miles of tunnels underneath Gaza which allows Hamas to move its leadership, supplies, and hostages around without being observed from the surface.

Israeli and U.S. authorities have been working to map and destroy tunnels, but the process is time consuming, tedious, and risky for the soldiers involved. They have also used interrogations of prisoners to help map the labyrinth.

The Israeli military released footage of Sinwar in the tunnels with his family back on October 10, three days after the deadly attacks of October 7. Officials report that they are unaware if Sinwar is still in command of the organization, as he has been focused on survival. If Israel is able to kill or capture him it would be a huge victory in their campaign which could ultimately conclude the war.

Copyright 2024,