Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Israel accuses Hamas of 'psychologically harassing' families of hostages after release of three videos

Manu Fernandes/AP

Naama Weinberg shows a photo of her cousin Itai Svirsky during a press conference of family members of Israelis held by Hamas on October 26, 2023.


Israel said Hamas was carrying out “psychological torture” on Monday after the militant group released a third video in less than 24 hours showing the same three hostages being held in Gaza, with two of the last hostages apparently dead.

“Hamas has been badly hit by the IDF and all they have left is to inflict psychological pain on the families. [of the hostages]Then I leave the IDF to clarify things for the families,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters on Monday.

The first video, released Sunday, showed clips of the three hostages — Noah Arkamani, Itai Svirsky and another man, whose family requested his name be withheld — talking to a camera. It ended with the caption, “Tomorrow, we will inform you of their fate.”

A second video released on Monday repeated the news that the fate of the three hostages would soon be made public, in an apparent attempt by Hamas to raise concerns.

A third video released late Monday appeared to show the dead bodies of two of the hostages, Itai Svirsky and the other man. It also includes Noah Arkamani's claim that the two men were killed by Israeli forces.

It is not known whether Arkamani was persuasive. The video is also heavily edited with audio effects and looping of some of his words.

IDF Chief Spokesman Daniel Hagari addressed the videos at a Monday evening briefing, saying Itai Svirsky was not attacked by Israeli forces as a third video claims. He said the IDF did not attack the building where the trio was staying, but rather nearby, as the video states.

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“We don't strike where we know there might be hostages,” Hagari said. “In retrospect, we know they hit targets close to where they were held. We are investigating the event and its circumstances, examining the images distributed by Hamas and any additional information we have.


Noah Arcamani was abducted from the Noah festival on October 7 with her boyfriend.

The military spokesman added that IDF representatives met with the families of the three hostages and updated them on the latest information they had, adding that the IDF “expressed grave concern” over the fate of two of the hostages.

CNN did not broadcast the videos and could not immediately verify when or where they were filmed.

Hamas and other groups took about 240 hostages in Gaza on October 7. More than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages were released during a week-long truce in late November, with Palestinians in Israeli jails released in exchange for Israelis.

Israel believes there are 132 hostages in Gaza, with around 107 believed to be still alive.

Speaking in two videos, Arkhamani, 26, was abducted from the Nova festival along with her boyfriend Avinathan Orr. In a video released by Hamas at the time, Arkamani was seen being dragged away on a motorcycle.

His mother, Leora, has stage four brain cancerThe video he recorded at the end of last year, She begged for her daughter's safe return: “Noah, if I don't see you, I want you to know that I love you very much.”

Swirsky was abducted from his home in Tel Aviv to visit his family in Kibbutz Biri. The 38-year-old dual Israeli-German citizen was staying at the home of his mother, Orit Svirsky, a staunch peace activist.

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Orit was shot dead in front of her, then her ex-husband Rafi – Swirski's father – was murdered along with her three dogs. Swirsky's 97-year-old maternal grandmother, Aviva Sela, survived the attack, but her Filipina caregiver, Grace Cabrera, 45, was killed.

Swirski has degrees in psychology and economics and recently started working as a life coach, his family told CNN. According to his family, one of the hostages freed in November contacted his sister and informed her that he was alive after memorizing her phone number. That was the last “proof of life” of the family.

Guidance: CNN is not showing the name or pictures of the third hostage at the family's request.

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