Hamas has posted a video of three elderly Israeli captives pleading for their immediate release.
The Palestinian group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, posted the one-minute video, titled Don’t Let Us Grow Old Here, on its Telegram account on Monday.
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The men – identified by Israeli officials as 79-year-old Chaim Peri, 80-year-old Yoram Metzger and 84-year-old Amiram Cooper – were taken to Gaza on October 7 when Hamas launched attacks inside Israeli territory, killing 1,147 people and taking about 240 captives.
Nearly half of those captives were released as part of a weeklong truce between Israel and Hamas last month.
In the video, Peri, seated between the two other captives, said in Hebrew that he was being held along with other elderly hostages with chronic illnesses and that their conditions were harsh.
“We are the generation who built the foundation for the creation of Israel. We are the ones who started the IDF military. We don’t understand why we have been abandoned here,” he said, referring to the Israeli armed forces.
“You have to release us from here. It does not matter at what cost. We don’t want to be casualties as a direct result of the IDF military air strikes. Release us with no conditions,” he added.
The video concludes with the three men saying in unison: “Don’t let us grow old here.”
Israeli media reported the three hostages came from the Nir Oz kibbutz along the Israeli border, which was targeted in the October 7 attacks.
Peri was at his house in Nir Oz during the attack, Israeli media reports said. He tried to repel the gunmen while hiding his wife behind a sofa, his son told the Reuters news agency. He eventually gave himself up to save his wife, who remained hidden, the report said.
Outrage over captives in Israel
The Israeli military said Hamas had released a “criminal, terrorist video”.
“Chaim, Yoram and Amiram, I hope that you hear me this evening,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing. “Know this – we are doing everything, everything, in order to return you back safely.”
Israel has in the past labelled such videos as a form of psychological warfare by Hamas.
After the release of the latest video, families of Israelis held captive by Hamas in Gaza protested outside Israeli Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, demanding the immediate release of their loved ones.
The protest came amid growing outrage within Israel after the Israeli military last week admitted it mistakenly shot dead three Israeli captives in Gaza despite them waving a white flag.
Al Jazeera correspondent Sara Khairat, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the video released by Hamas sends a “strong message”.
“[The video] is going to do two things: help the people know that they are alive even though it’s still not clear when it was filmed, and it will also put a lot more pressure on the Israeli government, which is already in hot waters for the death of three captives last week and at a time when the demonstrations are continuing,” she said.
Meanwhile, as diplomatic efforts continue to end the war in Gaza and release prisoners taken on both sides, the Israeli military has intensified its bombardment of the enclave, killing nearly 19,500 people since October 7 – most of them women and children.
The air and ground strikes on Gaza have flattened the besieged enclave, burying thousands of people under the rubble.
In absence of the required aid not being allowed to flow into the strip, international aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian disaster with widespread hunger and spread of diseases.
Human Rights Watched has accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.