Yahya Sinwar
Yahya SinwarFlash90

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Hamas terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip and mastermind of the October 7 massacre, has survived more than eight months of war by hiding like a "cornered rat" in tunnels underneath Gaza, according to a counter-terror expert.

The New York Post quoted Colin Clarke, a member of the New York-based Soufan Group and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, as saying that Sinwar is "likely still in Gaza, deep within the tunnel network and surrounded by hostages to secure his safety."

“Sinwar is someone who is out for his own survival," Clarke added. “It’s his ultimate goal, like a cornered rat.”

According to Clarke, Sinwar is most likely using the “primitive method" of having couriers deliver his orders by hand to avoid using any electronics that can be traced to his location.

Institute for the Study of War chairman Jack Keane, a retired US general, stated that Sinwar has likely relocated from Rafah to Khan Younis ahead of Israel's military operation in the southern Gaza city.

Sinwar is unlikely to be commanding Hamas's forces in the field given the secrecy surrounding his location, but he has been able to consistently kill international ceasefire proposals by continuously turning them down or making new demands.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal revealed damning correspondence between Sinwar and his closest associates in Hamas showing that Sinwar wants to see more Gazan civilians killed because he believes it serves Hamas's interests.

Sinwar has for months refused to agree to a ceasefire-prisoner swap deal that does not include a complete end to the war and a withdrawal of the IDF from Gaza - two conditions that would leave Hamas in power and able to regroup, and which would allow the terror group to fulfill its promise of carrying out repeat "October 7th" massacres in the future.

Behind this refusal, the WSJ noted, "is a calculation that more fighting—and more Palestinian civilian deaths—work to his advantage."

The site noted that "in dozens of messages" Sinwar has "shown a cold disregard for human life and made clear he believes Israel has more to lose from the war than Hamas." The messages were shared by multiple people with differing views of Sinwar.

In a message to Hamas officials seeking to broker a prisoner swap agreement, Sinwar wrote, "We have the Israelis right where we want them."

In another message to Hamas leaders in Doha, Sinwar described civilian deaths in Gaza as "necessary sacrifices."

In May, the New York Times reported that American officials believed Sinwar was hiding in a tunnel in Khan Yunis rather than in Rafah.

In late January, the IDF found a video from the earliest days of the war of Sinwar walking inside a strategic Hamas tunnel, accompanied by his wife and children. Another person was seen leading them through the tunnel.

Israeli sources stated at the time that "Sinwar is running from cave to cave all the time – just like a mouse. He is terrified and is moving from one place to another in a frenzy. The only thing that can cause a deal is his real fear that any minute he will be killed, and only a deal will save him."

According to the sources, "If there is a chance for a deal, it is only because of military pressure; the IDF sitting on Sinwar's neck, and that in another second he will not be with us and they will kill him. He has no other reason than this. He does not need fuel, medicine or food. He knows that any minute he is going to be eliminated with his top team."