GAZA: Hamas appeared to show the dead bodies of two Israeli hostages on Monday (Jan 15) after warning Israel they might be killed if it did not stop its bombardment of Gaza.
A new video released by the Palestinian militant group purportedly showed the bodies of Yossi Sharabi, 53, and Itai Svirsky, 38, who had appeared in an initial video on Sunday.
It also showed a third Israeli hostage, university student Noa Argamani, 26, seemingly reading a script in front of a blank white wall, saying the two were killed by Israeli strikes.
Israel’s military spokesperson said there was serious concern regarding the fate of the hostages purported to be dead in the video while specifying that one of them, whom he identified as Svirsky, was not killed by Israeli fire.
“Itai 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,” said military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, who did not give the name or any details about the second person as per the family’s request.
“We don’t attack a place if we know there may be hostages inside,” he said, adding that areas nearby had been targeted.
Reuters was unable to verify what had happened to the three, who were among some 240 people taken hostage by Hamas militants during a surprise cross-border rampage into southern Israel on Oct 7.
Around half of those hostages were released during a short-lived November truce, but Israel says 132 remain in Gaza and that 25 have died in captivity.
The three Israelis were shown in a Hamas video on Sunday in which the group urged the Israeli government to halt its aerial and ground offensive and bring about their release.
It ended with the caption: “Tomorrow (Monday) we will inform you of their fate.”
Israeli officials have generally declined to respond to Hamas’ public messaging on the hostages.
Forensic officials have said that autopsies of slain hostages who had been recovered found causes of death inconsistent with Hamas’ account they had died in air strikes.
Israel has also made clear it is aware of the risks to hostages from its offensive and is taking precautions.