Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar 'met hostages on 8 October, promised to release them'

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar 'met hostages on 8 October, promised to release them'
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar reportedly reassured Israeli hostages a day into their captivity that they would not be harmed and would eventually be released as part of an exchange deal.
2 min read
28 November, 2023
Yahya Sinwar reportedly met the Israeli hostages in underground tunnels on 8 October [Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty]

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar met hostages taken by the Palestinian group's fighters the day after 7 October, reassuring them of their safety and telling them they would be released as part of an exchange deal, a recently released captive has reportedly said.

Sinwar and his brother Mohammed - a senior commander of Hamas's armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades - met some of the hostages in underground tunnels on 8 October, the day after they were taken hostage by Hamas fighters, Haaretz reported Tuesday.

Sinwar spoke in Hebrew to the hostages, who had been taken from the Nir Oz kibbutz, and reassured them that they would be released, Haaretz reported the hostage as saying.

About 240 Israeli and foreign hostages were taken by Hamas in their large-scale attack on Israel on 7 October, and some 1,200 people were killed.

Almost 15,000 people in Gaza have been killed in Israel's air and ground assault on the Palestinian territory since the Hamas attack.

Some 69 of the Israeli and foreign hostages have been released since a short-term truce came into effect on Friday.

The four-day truce was extended on Monday by two more days; a senior Israeli official said the agreement to extend the truce was in exchange for the release of 20 more hostages, Haaretz reported.

Hamas had released a handful of other hostages before the truce was implemented.

The 7 October attack and its aftermath have caused tumult within Israel, with many Israelis questioning why the Hamas fighters had been able to penetrate the border with relative ease to kill and capture so many Israelis.

Israelis have criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government for failing to rescue the hostages from Gaza amid Israel's intensive and widespread bombardment of the territory.

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Released Israeli hostages have spoken of being treated relatively well while held captive.

The Al-Qassam Brigades released a letter purportedly written by one of the freed hostages that thanked the captors for the care they gave them.

The purported letter - which appears to have been written while the Israeli hostage and her daughter were still being held captive, and so may have been written under duress - said the fighters had shown "extraordinary humanity" towards them.

Hamas has said that several of the hostages have been killed in Israel's relentless bombardment of Gaza.

Israel appears to be preventing the released hostages from speaking to the media in what some say is a bid to limit the spread of positive stories about Hamas.