Disturbing Hamas footage sharpens focus on hostages in Gaza
As the Israel-Hamas War entered its hundredth day, Hamas broadcast a chilling video on Sunday of three Israeli hostages held in Gaza. Noa Argamani, Yossi Sharabi, and Itai Svirsky are seen pleading for their release, followed by the chyron: “Tomorrow we will inform you of their fate.” On Monday, Hamas released a video of Sharabi and Svirsky dead, with Argamani shown saying they were killed by strikes from the Israeli military.
Israeli officials immediately labeled the broadcast as “psychological warfare.” While not responding directly, IDF spokesman Rear-Admiral Daniel Hagari acknowledged the risks to the hostages from Israel’s offensive operations and emphasized that they were being adapted “in accordance with the threats and the hostages who are in the field.”
Of the 240 people taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7, nearly half were released during a weeklong cease-fire in November. Israel says 132 remain captive in Gaza and that 25 of them have died.
The hostage crisis has fractured public opinion and complicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the crisis. While polls show that most Israelis support his aim of eliminating Hamas, more than 300,000 took to the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, demanding Netanyahu secure another release deal “at any cost.”
The issue is also dividing Israel’s War Cabinet. Minister Gadi Eisenkot, a former IDF chief of staff whose son was killed fighting in Gaza, warned his colleagues that “we have to stop lying to ourselves, to show courage, and to lead to a large deal that will bring home the hostages.” Eisenkot’s position was reportedly supported by National Unity party head Benny Gantz and Shas party leader MK Aryeh Deri.
Netanyahu’s position remains that Hamas’ destruction will enable the hostages’ release. In response to the video, Israeli forces intensified their operations in Gaza, where an estimated 24,000 Palestinians have been killed since October. The latest bombardment included airstrikes on Gaza City in the north and shelling of the city of Khan Younis in the south.