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'Nothing will happen to you': Hostages say Hamas chief visited, spoke to them in Hebrew

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The Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar is said to have visited some of the Israeli hostages after they were abducted, according to an Israeli television report citing a released hostage.

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According to the woman, whose identity was not disclosed, the visit took place in a subterranean tunnel during the first couple of days following the October 7 attacks, when Hamas fighters rampaged through Israeli border communities near Gaza and killed about 1200 people and took dozens more hostage.

The visitor had introduced himself as Yahya Sinwar and spoke Hebrew, the freed hostage said.

“You are safest here, nothing will happen to you,” the woman quoted him as saying.

The report cannot be independently verified.

Mediator Qatar says a truce between Israeli and Hamas forces in Gaza has been extended by two days, continuing a pause in seven weeks of warfare that has killed thousands and laid waste to the Palestinian enclave.

“An agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip,” a Qatari foreign ministry spokesman said in a post on social media platform X.

There was no immediate comment from Israel but a White House official confirmed agreement had been reached.

Hamas also said it had agreed a two-day extension to the truce with Qatar and Egypt, who have been facilitating indirect negotiations between the two sides.

“An agreement has been reached with the brothers in Qatar and Egypt to extend the temporary humanitarian truce by two more days, with the same conditions as in the previous truce,” a Hamas official said in a phone call with Reuters.

Sinwar was convicted by Israel in 1988 for the murder of four suspected collaborators and two Israeli soldiers.

He spent more than two decades in Israeli custody, during which time he learnt Hebrew.

In 2011, Sinwar was released as one of more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In 2017, he became the head of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.

Since the October 7 attacks committed by Hamas and other groups in the Israeli border area, Sinwar has been at the top of Israel’s most wanted list.

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