Hamas says Israeli hostages have suffered many losses

By Thomson Reuters Feb 16, 2024 | 9:53 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) -Hamas’ armed wing said on Friday that Israelis taken hostage by the militants on Oct. 7 had suffered many losses and that those that were alive were living in extremely difficult conditions.

Hamas militants killed 1,200 people in southern Israel and abducted at least 250 in their October incursion, according to Israeli tallies. Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

During a week-long truce in late November, Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Israel releasing about 240 Palestinian prisoners.

“Losses amongst (Israeli hostages) have become many while other hostages live in extremely difficult conditions,” Hamas’ armed wing spokesman Abu Obeida said in an audio message.

“We warned dozens of times about the dangers to which their hostages are being exposed. We didn’t want the situation to reach this stage, but (Israel’s) leadership ignored us,” he said.

“For months, we tried to protect and care for the lives of these hostages, as it is our top humanitarian goal to liberate our own prisoners and to realise the legitimate rights of our people.”

Israel’s chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said on Tuesday that 31 of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were dead.

Israel has said 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, which documents and cares for all Palestinian detainees, issued a statement on Tuesday saying the number of Palestinians who have been arrested since Oct. 7 had reached 7,000.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, Nidal Al Mughrabi, Writing by Adam Makary; Editing by Alison Williams and Nick Macfie)