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Israel-Hamas War and Gaza News: Latest Updates

Israel-Hamas War and Gaza News: Latest Updates

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The families of several Israeli female soldiers taken hostage during the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 have released video of their abduction in an attempt to pressure the Israeli government to revive stalled cease-fire talks that could pave the way for the captives’ release.

Family members first saw the footage a few weeks ago via the Israeli military, which formally handed them a copy on Tuesday night, according to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents families of hostages held captive in Gaza.

“I’m asking you, please show this clip every day, open your broadcasts with it,” Eli Albag, whose daughter Liri Albag can be seen in the video, said in a television interview with Israel’s Channel 12. “Until somebody wakes up, the nation wakes up, and realizes that they’ve been abandoned there for 229 days.”

On Thursday, the day after the video was made public, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that Israel’s war cabinet had ordered its negotiators to “continue talks to bring home the hostages” held in Gaza. But hopes for immediate progress appeared remote in the shadow of Israel’s ongoing military operation in Rafah, in southern Gaza, from which over 800,000 Palestinians have fled, according to the United Nations.

Some Israeli politicians immediately seized on the video on Wednesday to try to rebuff the decision by Ireland, Norway, and Spain to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. Israel Katz, the foreign minister, said he would screen the footage during a “severe reprimand” of the countries’ ambassadors.

A still image from a video released by the Israeli military showing Israeli soldiers, all young women, during their abduction amid the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7.Credit…The Hostages Families Forum, via Reuters

In the three-minute edited collection of videos, which were verified by The New York Times, Palestinian fighters, some wearing Hamas headbands, can be seen binding the hands of five Israeli women who served as lookouts at Nahal Oz, a military base near the Gaza border. At least two of the hostages’ faces are bloodied, and they appear to be wearing pajamas. The militants repeatedly threaten the women.

One of the militants calls the women “dogs,” vowing to crush them. One of the women can be heard telling the militants that she had “a friend in Palestine,” even as another begs to know if any of them speak English.

In a statement, Hamas said that the scenes presented in the edited video “could not be confirmed.” The group also claimed that a translation provided by the Israeli authorities was incorrect and included phrases “that were not said by any of the fighters who appeared in the video.”

Talks to secure the release of the more than 125 hostages still being held in Gaza have been at a standstill since Israel began its assault on the southern city of Rafah in early May. Israeli forces operating in northern Gaza retrieved the bodies of four Israelis abducted on Oct. 7, heightening fears for the remaining captives.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum identified the Israeli hostage soldiers in the video as Naama Levy, Agam Berger, Liri Albag, Karina Ariev and Daniela Gilboa, all aged 19 or 20. The footage was recorded by body cameras worn by the Hamas militants who abducted them, the organization said.

Families of hostages met with senior Israeli leaders on Wednesday, including Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, and Benny Gantz, a member of the country’s war cabinet, in an attempt to lobby for an immediate agreement with Hamas.

“The video is a damning testament to the nation’s failure to bring home the hostages, who have been forsaken for 229 days,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a statement.

In a statement on social media, Mr. Gantz said he was appalled by the footage of the five hostages’ abduction, and vowed to make “difficult decisions” if necessary in order to bring home the remaining captives in Gaza.

Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, said the video was “a reminder to the world of the evil we are fighting in Gaza.”

Dmitriy Khavin, Alexander Cardia and Riley Mellen contributed reporting.

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