Hamas claims two Israeli captives killed in Gaza air strikes

Israeli military spokesman rejects Hamas claim that the two hostages were killed by Israeli bombing.

Families and supporters of Israeli captives held by Hamas fighters demonstrate outside the Israeli ministry of defence in Tel Aviv on December 15, 2023, calling for an immediate deal or their release in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
Families and supporters of Israeli captives held by Hamas fighters demonstrate outside Israel's Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, calling for an immediate deal or the captives' release in exchange for that of Palestinian prisoners [File: Ahmad Gharabli/ AFP]

The armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas has released a video purporting to show the dead bodies of two Israeli captives it claims were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

The video, released by the Qassam Brigades on Monday, shows three Israeli captives speaking to the camera, likely under duress.

In the first part of the unverified video, a female captive identified by Israeli media as Noa Argamani, 26, and two male captives urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the assault on Gaza, according to a translation provided by the armed group.

In the second part, Argamani said that the two men captives were killed “because of our own [Israeli] air strikes”. The video ends purporting to show the dead bodies of the two captives. It was not clear when the video was taken.

In a statement released with the video, the Qassam Brigades said the two men were killed in “the Zionist army’s bombing”.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari identified hostage Itay Svirsky as one of the men in the latest Hamas video, but did not give the name or other details about the second person as per the family’s request.

“Itay was not shot by our forces. That is a Hamas lie. The building in which they were held was not a target and it was not attacked by our forces.”

“We don’t attack a place if we know there may be hostages inside,” he said

Hamas had previously released another video on Sunday showing the three captives alive.

The Palestinian group seized around 240 people as captives when it attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,139 people, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel responded to the attack with a devastating bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza in which more than 24,100 people have been killed, according to Palestinian authorities.

‘Nobody will talk to us’

Later on Monday, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas was attempting to apply “psychological pressure” to the families of the hostages by releasing the videos.

The Israeli army was helping the families, he told a news conference, and keeping them up to date with any developments.

“Hamas has been hit hard by the [military],” he said.

“What’s left for it is to touch a sensitive nerve in Israeli society through acts of psychological abuse against the family members.”

Ruling out a ceasefire in Gaza, Gallant reiterated that the only way to get the captives back home is by continuing to apply “military pressure”. Otherwise, he said, “nobody will talk to us” and we “will not succeed in reaching any agreements”.

Gideon Levy, a columnist for Haaretz newspaper, told Al Jazeera that the video was “quite shocking”.

“I understand the ideological warfare, but there should be some borders,” he said. “To play [a video] yesterday of them alive and today [a video showing] the opposite … there should be some borders that even Hamas should not cross. Nothing good will come out of it.”

The Hamas video comes a day after thousands of people demonstrated in Tel Aviv’s Hostage Square to mark 100 days since the captives were seized.

Relatives of those still held in Gaza have repeatedly called on the government to prioritise their release and to push for a temporary ceasefire.

More than 100 captives were freed during a week-long truce in late November following lengthy negotiations mediated by Qatar and the United States. In exchange, Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from jails.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies