Report: Hamas leader in Gaza met fighters, inspected battle sites

Leader of the Palestinian Islamic Movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip Yehya al-Sinwar attends a rally marking the 46th anniversary of the Land Day. Mohammed Talatene/dpa
Leader of the Palestinian Islamic Movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip Yehya al-Sinwar attends a rally marking the 46th anniversary of the Land Day. Mohammed Talatene/dpa
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The leader of the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yehya al-Sinwar, has recently inspected areas that saw clashes between the militant group and Israeli forces, a senior Hamas official told the Qatar-owned Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

Al-Sinwar has been leading the movement in the field and reports about him "isolated in the tunnels" are only claims by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his agencies "to cover up for their failure in achieving the goals declared to the Israeli street and his allies," the official said.

Al-Sinwar recently met some of the movement's fighters on the ground - not in the tunnels - and also briefed Hamas' leaders abroad and provided them "with accurate numbers and field report on the resistance's strength and ability to confront the occupation forces," the source added.

Israel says it believes the Hamas leadership, including al-Sinwar, are hiding in underground tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile the militant Palestinian organization released another video of a hostage abducted from Israel.

The video released on Wednesday shows a 24-year-old man making accusations against the Israeli government. He charged that the government had failed to protect Israeli citizens and abandoned them.

It was initially unclear under what circumstances the video was made and whether the man spoke of his own free will or under threat.

The recording was also undated. The Hamas massacre which triggered the conflict in Gaza was 201 days ago on Wednesday. The man who was abducted from the Nova music festival also said in the video that 70 hostages in the Gaza Strip had been killed by Israeli airstrikes.

Following the release of a hostage video by Hamas, there were spontaneous protests in Israel on Wednesday evening.

Hundreds of people gathered in Jerusalem near Netanyahu's residence to demonstrate in favour of the release of the hostages, according to several media reports.

Among the demonstrators were also friends of the kidnapped young man who was seen in the video. Protesters clashed with police.

According to police reports, demonstrators lit fires and fireworks and knocked over rubbish bins. They also blocked traffic. Security forces tried to disperse them. At least four people were detained.

For months, protesters have been calling on the Israeli government to strike another deal with Hamas in order to secure the release of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has reportedly denied proposals from international mediators. In return, Israel is not prepared to fulfil all of Hamas' demands. Relatives of the abductees also accuse the government of standing in the way of a hostage deal.

According to Israel, it does not currently know how many of the people abducted in the Gaza Strip are dead or under what conditions they died.

Until a few weeks ago, Israel had assumed that just under 100 of the 130 remaining hostages were still alive. However, it is now feared that significantly more of them may already be dead.

"The hostages are dying away, according to estimates less than half of them are still alive," the Israeli news website ynet recently reported.

The people kidnapped from Israel were in an "underground hell" without food, water or medical treatment, the kidnapped man went on to say in the video published by the military arm of Hamas, the so-called Qassam Brigades. He also called on the Israeli government to bring the hostages home.

The footage shows the young man with a missing forearm. According to Israeli media, his forearm was torn off when terrorists from the Gaza Strip threw grenades or artillery fire into a hiding place where he and other people had sought shelter on October 7.

According to Israeli media reports, the man is an Israeli-American.

The Gaza war was triggered by the unprecedented massacre with more than 1,200 deaths that militants from the Palestinian Hamas movement and other Islamist groups carried out in Israel on October 7.

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive. In view of the high number of civilian casualties and the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Israel has come in for increasing criticism internationally.