Israel strikes house of Hamas political chief in Gaza: army

Yahya Sinwar, a former commander of Hamas's military branch, served more than two decades in an Israeli jail before he was released in 2011 as a part of a prisoner exchange.

The Israeli Iron Dome missile defence system (L) intercepts rockets (R) fired by the Hamas movement towards southern Israel from Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip as seen in the sky above the Gaza Strip overnight on May 14, 2021. Israel bombarded Gaza with artillery and air strikes on Friday, May 14, in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave. Picture: ANAS BABA/AFP

GAZA CITY – Israeli air strikes hit the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas' political wing in the Gaza Strip, the army said Sunday, but without saying if he was killed.

"Among the targets struck are the residences of Yahya Sinwar, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau in Gaza, as well as of his brother, Muhammad Sinwar, Head of Logistics and Manpower for Hamas," Israel's army said in a statement, releasing a video showing plumes of smoke and intense damage.

"Both residences served as military infrastructure for the Hamas terror organisation."

Witnesses confirmed to AFP a strike had hit Sinwar's house.

Sinwar, a former commander of Hamas's military branch, served more than two decades in an Israeli jail before he was released in 2011 as a part of a prisoner exchange.

First elected as the head of Hamas's political wing in Gaza in 2017, he was re-elected in March, extending his tenure as the Islamist movement's de facto leader in the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian enclave.

Hamas overall chief Ismail Haniyeh is currently based in Qatar.

The army said it had also carried out strikes targeting Hamas tunnel systems.

As of 07:00 am (0400 GMT) Sunday, Israel's army said that Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired some 2,900 rockets towards Israel.

The army said 450 rockets fell short inside Gaza, while Israel's Iron Dome air defence system has intercepted approximately 1,150 rockets.

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