Monday, June 17, 2024

Israel confirms around 80 hostages still alive in Gaza

Some 80 Israeli hostages are thought to still remain in captivity in the Gaza Strip after 43 were declared dead in absentia on Tuesday, according to an updated official tally released by Israel.

Four more hostages had been added to the list of fatalities the day before, with Chaim Peri, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper and Nadav Popplewell believed to have been killed in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis “a number of months” ago, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The four hostages perished while the military was operating in the city, IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari admitted.

“We are thoroughly examining the circumstances of their deaths and checking all possibilities. We will soon present the findings, first to their families, and then to the public. We will present them with transparency, as we have done until now,” he added.

All four men had previously appeared in hostage videos released by Hamas. At least one of them, Popplewell, succumbed to wounds sustained during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, according to the Palestinian group.

Anonymous Israeli government officials, however, have told various media outlets that the figure of 80 thought to still be alive is likely significantly lower and many more hostages have already perished.

More than 100 hostages have been freed since the beginning of the recent hostilities. Only a handful were rescued as the result of military action, while the vast majority of captives were released during a prisoner swap with Hamas in November during a weeklong ceasefire.

Securing the release of all the hostages taken by Hamas during the initial attack on southern Israel on October 7 has been one of the main goals of the war on the Palestinian group launched by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

During nearly eight months of conflict, the apparent inability to actually get the hostages out of Gaza has continuously been criticized by Netanyahu’s critics, with the relatives of abducted Israelis repeatedly staging mass protests calling for government action.

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