Called many names from an enormous egoist to the walking dead, savior, and a cold-blooded, magnetic leader; a compact, sinewy man, one thing is for sure – Yahya Sinwar, is a man to be taken seriously.
Currently, thousands of Israeli troops along with drones, electronic eavesdropping devices, and human informants, are all trying to discover Sinwar whereabouts.
Who is Yahya Sinwar?
Known for being a private individual, there isn’t much information available about his family or his personal relationships.
Sinwar was born 1962 in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in southern Gaza. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, his family had been forced to leave their home in Ashkelon.
There, he pursued his undergraduate education at the Islamic University of Gaza, earning a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Studies.
In 1982, Sinwar was first arrested for his association with Hamas and was subsequently imprisoned on several occasions. spending a total of 22 years behind bars.
In the late 1980s, Sinwar helped found Hamas’s military wing during the first Palestinian uprising.
In 1989, he oversaw the abduction and murder of two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians he considered rebels. He was sentenced to four life sentences by Israel, but served only 22 years.
In the Early 2000s, while in Israeli prison, he became fluent in Hebrew and familiar with Israeli society. Later on, Sinwar started experiencing issues with his vision and had head aches. He was then moved to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba where he underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor.
In October 18, 2011,during an exchange where Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Yahya Sinwar was among those released, citing that he had killed fellow Palestinians and was too old to mastermind a terrorist (they were wrong). Despite the objections by some Israeli officials, he was ultimately pardonned.
In 2015, Sanwar was believed to have ordered the torture and execution of fellow Hamas commander Mahmoud Ishtiwi who was found guilty of homosexuality and embezzlement.
How Yahya Sinwar Deceived Israel
According to a Gaza-based columnist for the West Bank newspaper Al Ayyam, Akram Atallah, Hamas and Sinwar allegedly engaged in a sophisticated misinformation campaign to deceive Israel. They conveyed a false image of seeking peace, economic development, and employment opportunities for Gaza residents.
While direct communication with Israeli authorities didn’t occur, Sinwar reportedly used intermediaries to convince Israel of Hamas’s purportedly peaceful intentions. This included collaborating with the Palestinian Authority to secure work permits for around 18,000 Gazans to work in Israel. Some of these workers, according to Israeli security officials, were involved in providing information that aided Hamas militants in carrying out attacks on October 7.
Following the attacks, Sinwar has not made any public statements or spoken to the press.