Israel defence minister vows to kill Hamas' Gaza chief

The IDF say they have struck over 2,500 'terror targets’ since the start of the war on October 7


SDEROT, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 19: Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant meets soldiers on the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023 in Sderot, Israel. As Israel prepares to invade the Gaza Strip in its campaign to vanquish Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that launched a deadly attack in southern Israel on October 7th, worries are growing of a wider war with multiple fronts, including at the country's northern border with Lebanon. Countries have scrambled to evacuate their citizens from Israel, and Israel has begun relocating residents some communities on its northern border. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of residents of northern Gaza have fled to the southern part of the territory, following Israel's vow to launch a ground invasion. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israel's defence minister has vowed that Hamas's leader in the Gaza strip will be killed as the IDF steps up its ground campaign within the enclave.

Yoav Gallant declared on Saturday: “The Hamas leadership is responsible. We will get to that leadership."

Speaking at a press conference, he said: “We will get to [Hamas Gaza chief] Yahya Sinwar and eliminate him. If the residents of Gaza get there ahead of us, that will shorten the war.”

Elected in 2017 as Hamas's leader of the Gaza strip, Sinwar is one of the founders of the al-Qassam Brigades that carried out the October 7 terror attack.

Arrested by Israel in 1988, he was sentenced to four life terms in prison but released in 2011 as part of a swap deal to secure the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

After the war, Gallant claimed: “there will be no more Hamas in Gaza".

He said: "There will be no more security threat from Gaza on Israel, and Israel will have absolute freedom to take whatever security action it seeks against anyone who raises their head in Gaza."

The IDF is currently "taking apart Hamas battalion after battalion,” he added.

An Israeli strike has meanwhile hit the house of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. While the political chief is based in Qatar, his two sons are believed to have lived in the property.

In an update on the war against Hamas posted on Telegram, the Israeli military said: "IDF troops are continuing to eliminate terrorists in close quarter combat and direct aircraft to strike Hamas terrorist infrastructure, weapons depots, observation posts, and command and control centres in the Gaza Strip.

"Overnight, IDF troops directed aircraft to strike a Hamas military compound containing command and control centers, observation posts, and additional terrorist infrastructure.

"During the combined activities of ground, air and naval forces in the Gaza Strip, over 2,500 terror targets have been struck."

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, whose figures cannot be independently verified, almost 10,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war on October 7.

Over the same period 345 Israeli soldiers have now died, with 28 having fallen since the IDF launched a ground invasion of the Gaza strip last week.

The IDF has also carried out a limited raid into the southern Gaza strip, the Times of Israel reported, as it continues its campaign to encircle Gaza city in the north of the territory.

This is thought to be part of a broader plan to prepare the area for a future stage of the war against Hamas.

The operation, undertaken by combat engineering forces and tanks, was designed to map out buildings and clear IEDs, the IDF said.

Abu Ubaida, a spokesperson for Hamas's armed wing, has claimed that more than 60 hostages taken by the group are missing in Gaza following Israeli airstrikes.

Over 220 Israeli captives remain under the control of the Islamist militants following the October 7 attack in which 1400 people were killed in a devastating wave of terror that saw civilians tortured, raped and kidnapped.

For all the latest from Israel, click here to see all our coverage.

To sign up to our daily war briefing, click here. 

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive