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Hamas Claims Multiple Israeli Hostages Dead, Survivors Suffering ‘Difficult Conditions’

HomeWARHamas Claims Multiple Israeli Hostages Dead, Survivors Suffering 'Difficult Conditions'

GAZA CITY – Tensions continue to rise in the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. In an ominous audio message today, a Hamas spokesperson claimed that many Israeli hostages held captive for the last four months have died due to the difficult conditions they face.

Abu Obeida, the spokesperson for Hamas’ armed wing, stated that the remaining hostages are living under extremely harsh circumstances as Israel ramps up devastating attacks on the Gaza Strip. His message seems to indicate talks for a potential ceasefire and hostage release have broken down.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears determined to push forward with major military operations in southern Gaza, particularly in the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border. He has stated Israel’s goal is to achieve “complete victory” over Hamas, rejecting the group’s recent ceasefire terms.

Netanyahu has also brushed aside international pressure to work towards creating an independent Palestinian state. Instead, he has made clear Israel will continue devastating military strikes against Hamas, even as concern mounts for the welfare of over 1.4 million Palestinians sheltering in besieged Rafah.

The Israeli military says it is preparing to sweep through Rafah, apparently with the dual objectives of routing Hamas militants and recovering Israeli hostages taken captive back on October 7 when this conflict erupted. But many fear massive civilian casualties if the overpowered and densely-populated city is invaded.

Protesting Families Demand Hostage Release

This relentless violence has led to growing protests in Israel, as critics and families of the hostages demand the government agree to terms for their release. During a mass march in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening, demonstrators wielded signs reading “I’m still alive: S.O.S.” and “Hostage deal now!”

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Other supporters lit flares and waved Israeli flags, drawing attention to their calls for an end to the fighting. While a minority believe the military is using too much force, harrowing stories from hostages returned in November’s brief ceasefire have stiffened the resolve of many Israelis to retrieve the remaining captives.

An estimated 130 hostages are still believed held by Hamas after the group’s October 7 attack on Israel that killed around 1,160 people, mostly civilians according to reports. Some former hostages have said Israel’s siege on Gaza made their conditions even worse initially, cutting off food and water.

One recalled her husband was taken to a Hamas tunnel just as Israel considered flooding them with water – a tactic the military continues using as its forces push through Gaza’s dense urban areas. Hamas also filmed hostages last month, seemingly under duress, calling on Israel to relent as the militants claimed multiple captives had already been killed in bombings.

The Israeli military has been accused of shooting and killing three hostages in December after they waved a makeshift white flag and desperately cried for help in Hebrew. Such deaths underscore the difficulty of urban warfare where Hamas uses guerrilla tactics to undermine Israel’s advanced military.

Israel Storms Hospital, Kills Patients

Still, Israel maintains intense pressure on Gaza. On Thursday, Israeli special forces staged a raid on the main hospital in southern Khan Younis, killing several patients and staff in what the military claimed was a search for remains of hostages held by Hamas.

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The army did not reveal who it was looking for but said the operation was based on “credible evidence” the militants had used the hospital. Just hours earlier, an Israeli drone strike hit the hospital’s upper floors, wounding a doctor, according to one of the few remaining surgeons there.

“Every day, bombings are happening around us,” said Dr. Khaled Alserr at Nasser Hospital in a rare account shared by aid group Mercy Corps. “The sound of warplanes is constantly loud. The military presence has become more apparent on the borders.”

Four patients died after the Israeli soldiers cut off their oxygen supply during the hospital raid, medical staff reported. And Al Jazeera journalists described how troops targeted maternity, orthopedics, and emergency wards, rounding up and restraining medical personnel while firing heavily into the building.

Humanitarian Crisis in Rafah

The raid came just a day after Israel issued evacuation orders for thousands of displaced Palestinians sheltering at Nasser Hospital in devastated Khan Younis. Much of the city’s population had already fled as the Israeli military pounded the area in recent weeks.

Now over 1.4 million people are crammed into the small city of Rafah, with nowhere else to go after Israel’s bombing emptied out Gaza City and Khan Younis to the north.

“People are afraid, people are talking about evacuating Rafah but no one knows where,” said Hamza, a Mercy Corps aid worker in the city. “So there is a status of fear.”

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“People just walk and you see their faces and eyes that there is something inside their heads they cannot make sense of. So we just live each moment and we from inside ourselves know that it could be the last moment we live here.”

With over 90% of Gaza’s population now displaced, many question where civilians will go if Israel invades Rafah as threatened. The Palestinian Health Ministry, run by Hamas, says over 28,000 Palestinians have already died in the four months of fighting. But the UN has found the ministry’s civilian casualty counts reliable in past conflicts with Israel.

Along the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group has signaled it may escalate its own attacks on Israel in response to 10 Lebanese civilians, including five children, killed in Israeli strikes this week.

In a televised speech on Friday, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians and vowed the “enemy will pay the price of spilling their blood in blood.” He called for increased “resistance work at the front,” hinting at intensified conflict along the already volatile border region where some 70,000 Israelis have been displaced.

Israel has warned it will “remove Hezbollah from the border altogether” if diplomatic efforts fail. In such a case, Lebanon will also pay a heavy price,” said Netanyahu, ratcheting up the heated rhetoric amid the snowballing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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