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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Three Israeli hostages appear in footage by Palestinian group Hamas at a location given as Gaza, in this still image obtained from handout video released December 18, 2023. ― Hamas Military Wing/Handout via Reuters
CAIRO, Dec 19 ― Hamas released a short video yesterday showing three elderly Israeli hostages whom the group seized during its October 7 rampage. Israel denounced it as a “criminal, terrorist video.”
The three men ― identified by Israel as 79-year-old Chaim Peri, 80-year-old Yoram Metzger and 84-year-old Amiram Cooper ― were taken hostage over 10 weeks ago with about 240 others by Hamas infiltrators who carried out a killing spree in Israeli communities.
The three men, all with beards, are seen sitting next to each other in the video, which Hamas posted to Telegram.
Sitting in the middle, Peri speaks to the camera, saying he and other elderly hostages who have health issues are “suffering greatly in very harsh conditions.”
He pleaded for Israel to secure their unconditional release.
Peri was at his house in Kibbutz Nir Oz during the Hamas attack. He tried to repel the gunmen while hiding his wife behind a sofa, his son later told Reuters. He eventually gave himself up to save his wife, who remained hidden.
Metzger's daughter-in-law Ayala Metzger said she felt both joy and shock when she saw the video.
“It was joy for a moment to see them alive,” she said, but added: “It was shocking to see them like this,” with grown out beards, having lost weight and looking weak and pale.
Military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari called it “a criminal, terrorist video” that shows “Hamas' cruelty against very elderly civilians, innocents who need medical care.”
“Chaim, Yoram and Amiram. I hope that you hear me this evening,” Hagari said in a televised briefing. “Know this ― we are doing everything, everything, in order to return you back safely.”
Israel and Hamas agreed to a week-long ceasefire at the end of November, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, that included the release of more than 100 hostages in Gaza in exchange for 240 Palestinian women and teenagers from Israeli jails.
Some of the hostages who remain in Gaza have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli authorities.
Cooper and Metzger, seen in yesterday's video and also from Nir Oz, were captured along with their wives, both of whom were returned to Israel during the truce.
Efforts are under way to try to arrange for the release of more hostages, with the heads of the US CIA and Israel's Mossad and Qatar's prime minister expected to meet and discuss the issue. ― Reuters
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