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Hamas ‘mastermind’ leads hostage talks

By Henry Bodkin in Tzrifin

The Hamas leader who planned the Oct 7 massacre in Israel is personally handling negotiations on a hostage release even as Israeli troops seek to find and kill him. Yahya Sinwar, who spent 22 years in an Israeli prison and was described last month by Benjamin Netanyahu as a “dead man”, has taken control of the deal and has been in touch with Qatari mediators, according to reports. Officials believe a deal to free around 50 of the 240 hostages captured by Hamas is close.

HAMAS smuggled bullets used in the Oct 7 massacre into Gaza in food bags designed for humanitarian aid, the Israeli military has claimed.

Investigators found up to 50 rice sacks in the aftermath of the slaughter, which they say had served as ammunition pouches.

During a tour of the “military-level” equipment recovered after the attack, Israeli officials told The Daily Telegraph the sacks pointed to a “smuggle path via humanitarian aid”.

Lt Col Idan Sharon-kettler of the Enemy Equipment Retrieval Unit said it was implausible the 1kg rice sacks were recycled for terrorist use having first been used legitimately to bring in food.

“These are not efficient ammunition pouches – it is not easy to take bullets out, and some of the bullets need to be used in a chain, so it takes time to put them in,” he said. “Other than smuggling, there is no good reason to hold the bullets in these bags. Instead of helping the population, this is how the ammunition was brought inside Gaza.”

Israel has previously claimed that Hamas uses shipments of humanitarian aid to bring weaponry into Gaza.

Yesterday, in a quiet corner of the sprawling military base at Tzrifin, outside Tel Aviv, a sample of the arsenal of weapons and equipment recovered from the devastated towns and kibbutzim near Gaza were put on display.

These included dozens of AK47S, many originating from the former Soviet Union, but also from China and other countries.

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