Israel puts $400K bounty on Hamas leader's head, drops leaflets in Gaza

Israel has placed a $400K bounty on Yahya Sinwar's head

Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza offering cash rewards amounting to $1 million for information leading to the capture of Hamas' top leadership in the region on Thursday.

Atop the list is Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, who's award is $400,000, followed by his brother, Muhammed at $300,000. Muhammed commands Hamas forces in southern Gaza. The leaflets also offer $200,000 for Rafaa Salameh, who commands the Khan Yunis Battalion, and $100,000 for Mohammed Deif, Hamas' general military commander, according to the Tazpit Press Service.

Israeli forces have been working to track Sinwar and his cohorts for weeks. They surrounded his home in southern Gaza earlier in December, but he is believed to have taken shelter somewhere in the labyrinth of Hamas tunnels beneath Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza.

Pictures of the fliers circulated on social media, showing an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) telephone number and contact info on the Telegram messaging app. The IDF is promising to protect the identities of any informants.


Hamas senior leaders visit the border crossing in Gaza

From left to right, Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar, Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh and senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya arrive at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip Sept. 19, 2017. (REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Sinwar is known in Israel as the "Butcher of Khan Younis" for his violent and cruel torture methods against his enemies, both Israeli and Palestinian. The 60-year-old Hamas leader is believed to be the mastermind behind the Oct. 7 terror attacks, during which more than 1,200 Israelis were murdered, and some 240 people were taken captive back to Gaza.

Sinwar is a longtime militant activist and joined Hamas shortly after its founding in 1987. Two years later, he was arrested by Israel for his involvement in the abduction and killing of two Israelis, as well as the torturing and murder of four Palestinians he considered to be collaborators. 

Sentenced to life in prison, Sinwar ended up serving 22 years in an Israeli jail and was eventually released as part of a prisoner exchange for the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.


United Nations Gilad Erdan

Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Gilad Erdan holds up a sign with the contact information of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar as he speaks during the U.N. General Assembly emergency special session on the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters on Dec. 12, 2023 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

After returning to Gaza as part of the Shalit deal, Sinwar became a popular leader in Hamas, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 2017, he was elected by secret ballot to replace the incumbent political leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

As for his role in the Oct. 7 massacre, Israel believes Sinwar and Hamas' military commander Mohammad Deif had planned the attack for more than two years. Evidence suggests Sinwar misled regional partners, including Egypt and Qatar, into believing he was more focused on humanitarian relief efforts for Gaza's 2.3 million Palestinian inhabitants than launching terror attacks on Israel. 

Israeli army spokesman retired Lt. Col. Peter Lerner previously told Fox News Digital that Sinwar "coorindated the entire institution of Hamas, the government and the military wing." 


Architect of Hamas attacks, Yahya Sinwar, grew up in a ‘world of hatred, antisemitism, ruthlessness’: Dakota WoodVideo

"He is the financier, the instructor, and he gave the ultimate green light to carry this out," Lerner said, calling Sinwar a top military target. 

Israel has vowed to continue the war in Gaza until Hamas is eradicated, calling Sinwar a "dead man walking." 

However, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged Thursday that the war in Gaza will take "more than several months." 

"Hamas is a terrorist organization that built itself over a decade to fight Israel, and they built infrastructure under the ground and above the ground and it is not easy to destroy them. It will require a period of time — it will last more than several months, but we will win and we will destroy them," Gallant said while meeting with visiting U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sulivan.

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