October 7th mastermind speaks out for first time since sneak attack

Yahya Sinwar claims IDF ‘destroyed’ in surprise October invasion.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hamas head Yahya Sinwar made exaggerated claims of IDF losses and struck a defiant note in his first public words since the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7, Maariv reported Monday.

In a letter to the Hamas political bureau, the man behind the invasion of Gaza envelope communities on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, in which his fighters massacred 1,200 people, including the elderly and infants, and abducted some 250 to be held as bargaining chips, wrote that his men had “destroyed” the Israeli army.

“During the ground war, the al-Qassam Brigades attacked at least 5,000 soldiers and officers,” he wrote. “One third of them were killed, another third were seriously injured and the last third was permanently disabled. As for military vehicles, 750 of them were killed [sic.], destroyed completely or partially.”

“The al-Qassam Brigades,” he added, “destroyed the occupation army, and they are on their way to crushing it, and they will not submit to the conditions of the occupation.”

The IDF has almost complete control of the northern Gaza Strip, and is currently gaining ground rapidly in its center. The army believes that it has killed about 8,000 Hamas troops in the fighting, of the estimated 30,000 men the Iranian proxy is believed to have under arms.

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Israel has so far mostly refrained from hitting the southern part of the coastal enclave, where it told Gazan civilians to go in order to escape its ground incursion, in its supreme effort to avoid hurting noncombatants while confronting Hamas forces. Sinwar himself, as well as many terrorists, are believed to have fled south during the humanitarian pauses the IDF initiated to aid in the civilian evacuation.

In terms of casualties, the IDF has announced the deaths of 152 soldiers since beginning its ground incursion into the Gaza Strip on October 27, in which tens of thousands of troops have participated, some for days and others for weeks and even months. Another 315 were killed while facing off with the Hamas invaders on October 7.

Last week, an IDF spokesman said that 1,860 soldiers had been injured so far, while Limor Luria, head of the Rehabilitation Division of the Defense Ministry reported to the Knesset’s Labor and Welfare Committee that her department was taking care of 2,816 new patients. Of these, 91% were lightly injured, 6% were moderately hurt, and 3% were severely wounded. In all, 18% are suffering psychologically rather than physically, she said, while acknowledging that PTSD symptoms can also appear long after physical wounds have healed.

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The disparity in numbers may stem from the fact that the IDF was only counting those wounded in operational activities, while those injured include intelligence forces, policemen and members of standby units, as well as those hurt in accidents on the roads or in assembly areas. The IDF Personnel Division also does not include in the list of the wounded those who were treated in the emergency department and were released without hospitalization or without the severity of their injury being determined.

According to a Ynet report two weeks ago, over 2,000 soldiers, police officers and security services personnel have been officially recognized as disabled veterans since October 7. The report did not contain a breakdown of the levels of disability.

In contrast to Sinwar and other military leaders of the terrorist organization, Hamas’ political echelon mostly lives in rich splendor, mainly in the Qatari capital of Doha. According to a Wall Street Journal report last week, they have begun talking with their Fatah rivals in charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA) about the “day after” the war ends.

Egypt has begun yet another attempt to bring the two together, although many past attempts have failed, although the U.S. and Israel have said Hamas cannot play a role in any future government in Gaza. The U.S. has said that it wants to see the PA take control again of Gaza, although the administration would have to be “revamped” first to make it possible.

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According to the American daily, Sinwar “doesn’t want Hamas to continue to govern Gaza, but believes the war isn’t lost yet and says it is too early to compromise.” He didn’t know about the talks, the paper’s sources said, and when he found out he demanded that they cease.