HIS life was saved twice by Israel – but the monster dubbed “The Hamas Bin Laden” repaid his sworn enemy by masterminding the October 7 horror.
Yahya Sinwar, 61, spent 22 years in an Israeli prison for terrorist murder and kidnap plots and spent every second honing his burning hatred for his captors.
And Israel’s military chiefs vowed yesterday that their renewed offensive must not end until he is dead as details of his twisted psyche were laid bare.
His astonishing rise to the top of the Hamas terror tree came despite being sentenced to four life sentences in 1989 for planning the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers and the murder of four Palestinians he suspected of working with Israel.
The bearded beast’s life was first saved when he was cured of cancer by an operation in a prison.
Then in 2011 he was freed, among 1,026 others, in a prisoner exchange for a single Israeli soldier in a deal that has been damned by his thousands of victims ever since.
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Israeli intelligence chiefs told yesterday how — even while in prison — the fanatical fiend killed as many as 15 Palestinians he suspected of treachery, usually with a razor blade or machete.
And his jailers told yesterday how the evil genius dedicated his every waking moment to studying his enemy as he began plotting the conflict now raging in Gaza.
Sinwar taught himself Hebrew and became fluent while caged — then began reading and studying every Israeli newspaper to probe the weak spots in his enemy’s armour.
The terror master’s deep knowledge of what makes Israelis tick led him to realise the power of the hostage-taking tactic now traumatising the strife-torn Jewish nation.
Yet despite his blood lust and bravado, the Hamas commander “cried like a baby” when he learned he had cancer, his jailer Lieutenant Betty Lahat has revealed.
Lahat, former head of Israel’s Prison Service’s Intelligence Department, visited Sinwar many times and broke the news of his aggressive brain tumour diagnosis 15 years ago.
She said: “For all of his usual bluster and terror cheerleading, he was absolutely terrified about his own health.
“It got so bad that we had him transferred to a facility with better medical care, where they discovered he had an aggressive brain tumour.
“When they told him the news he completely broke down.
“He feared that it was over and he was right to be scared.
“His cancer was aggressive and close to his brainstem.
“After the surgery, I went to see him in the hospital.
“At first he tried to keep up a tough exterior.
“But he quickly broke down and started sobbing like a baby. ‘Please, am I going to survive? No one will tell me what my condition is, even my family doesn’t know if this is the end for me’.
“I called over one of the medical team, who confirmed to Sinwar that the surgery had been a success.
“I told him, ‘You see, in the end, the State of Israel that you so despise saved your life’.
“Of course, there was no gratitude.
“He just answered, ‘Well, that’s your responsibility. Of course you saved me’. ”
Micha Kobi, a former senior member of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service, interrogated Sinwar several times in the past — and learned his hatred of Israel was matched only by his loathing for traitors.
Kobi said: “Sinwar is the most cruel leader, who loathes Jews with an abysmal hatred — and doesn’t like his own people either.
“I know of 15 cases of him killing Palestinians all alone, which he committed with his own hands in prison, using a razor and a machete.
“When I asked him why he didn’t get married, he replied that he is married to Hamas.”
Born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza in 1962, Sinwar’s hate was fermented after his family fled the southern city of Ashkelon during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
He finished his education at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Arabic Studies before committing himself completely to the Hamas cause.
Following his jail release, Sinwar said: “They wanted the prison to be a grave for us.
“But with our belief in our cause we turned the prison into sanctuaries of worship and academies for study.”
The cunning manipulator was elected as Hamas leader in 2017, pledging “peaceful, popular resistance”.
Dodged killer raid
But he quickly changed tack, vowing to totally destroy his Jewish enemy.
Sinwar also ruthlessly purged any threat to his authority and is said to have made political opponents dig their own grave before burying them alive.
He was believed to be hiding in the terror group’s labyrinth of tunnels under Gaza last night after freed hostages revealed he had visited them inside the lair.
Captives told how they were chilled by his calm demeanour as he moved among them speaking in fluent Hebrew with no accent, telling them: “Don’t worry — you are safe with Hamas.”
Hostage Yocheved Lifshitz — an 85-year-old peace activist freed two weeks after October 7 — bravely challenged him, asking him if he was ashamed.
The gran — taken to Gaza from her kibbutz Nir Oz on a motorbike — said: “Sinwar was with us three to four days after we arrived.
“I asked him how he is not ashamed to do such a thing to people who all these years have supported peace.
“He didn’t answer — he was silent.”
After he was re-elected Hamas leader in 2021 an Israeli air strike targeted Sinwar’s home in Khan Younis, but he dodged the raid and the assassination attempt failed.
As war resumed yesterday, Israel committed to a military campaign for at least a year with Sinwar the top target, along with his henchmen Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa.
But the Israeli Defence Force must track down the kingpin to cut off the head of the charismatic, secretive and cunning Hamas snake.
Former Shin Bet intelligence officer Kobi is confident, and warned: “It won’t be easy — he won’t surrender and will fight to the last bullet.
“But we will catch him. I think we are quite close to him.”