Hamas’s Qassam Brigades has released a video appearing to show the release of a female hostage and two children.
The footage aired on Al Jazeera on Wednesday night was shot from a distance, showing the unidentified woman and the children from behind.
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The men, presumably Hamas fighters, are seen walking away after leaving them in an open area near a fence, which could be the frontier between Israel and Gaza.
It is unclear when the video was shot. Israel dismissed the video as “theatrics”.
“After the whole world saw its ugly and true face as a barbaric organisation that executed hundreds of innocent children and women in a terrorist attack and a hideous massacre, Hamas is trying to change the truth through the theatrics of publishing a propaganda video through its media mouthpieces,” Avichay Adraee, the Israeli military spokesman for the Arab media, said in Arabic on X.
“The truth is clear and obvious, and its features will become more clear in the coming days. Hamas is worse than ISIS, and we will continue to strike it hard without stopping,” he added, referring to the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.
In a statement, the Qassem Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said the woman was an Israeli national.
“An Israeli settler and her two children were released after they were detained during the clashes,” said the statement, according to a report by the AFP news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the Israeli media is treating the video with a “pinch of salt”.
“One reporter said Hamas was in damage control, and that it was a media stunt. Other Israeli channels are saying this release happened earlier. Some are saying it happened on Saturday and that Hamas is trying to improve its international image at this point in time,” she said.
“The pictures are still spreading around the country, it’s just been aired on Al Jazeera, people are just trying to digest what they have seen,” she said, adding that there have been “conflicting” reactions so far.
An estimated 150 captives were captured by Hamas on Saturday during its unprecedented assault on Israel, which immediately declared war on Gaza.
The relentless Israeli bombing over five days has killed more than 1,050 people, including hundreds of civilians, and wounded more than 5,000 others in Gaza, its health ministry says.
The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency says 250,000 people have been displaced in the Palestinian enclave put under a total siege by Israel, creating what observers say is a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
The Israeli military says more than 1,200 people, including 155 soldiers, have died in Israel since Saturday.