German federal prosecutors announced a probe into Hamas on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering German citizens, as the mother of a German-Israeli woman believed abducted appealed for help.
Prosecutors “have opened an investigation against unidentified members of the radical Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas,” a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office told AFP.
The probe is over suspicions “of belonging to a foreign terrorist group, hostage-taking and murder,” she said.
In a massive weekend onslaught, some 1,500 gunmen led by Palestinian terror group Hamas invaded Israel after breaching the Gaza Strip border fence and then rampaged murderously for hours through southern areas. The death toll in Israel from the attack and subsequent battles rose above 900 by Tuesday, according to reports. The terrorists kidnapped about 150 men, women and children and dragged them into Gaza. Hamas also launched over 5,000 rockets at Israel and has continued to bombard southern and central areas.
Dozens of foreigners were killed, are among the nearly 3,000 injured, or were taken hostage during the Hamas attack.
A foreign ministry source in Berlin earlier said that several Germans who are also Israeli nationals were among those kidnapped by Hamas terrorists, without giving an exact number.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin was working “intensively” with Israel to learn the fate of German citizens among the hostages and “what we can do to secure their freedom.”
One German-Israeli woman, 22-year-old Shani Louk, is believed to have been abducted when terrorists attacked a rave party in the desert near the border with the Gaza Strip, according to her mother.
In a video on broadcaster ARD Tuesday, the mother, Ricarda Louk, said she had received new information that her daughter was “alive but has a severe head injury and is in critical condition.
“Every minute is critical, and we are asking the German government to act quickly,” she said.
Ricarda Louk first raised the alarm about her daughter over the weekend after she recognized her in videos circulating online, due to her striking tattoos and dyed hair.
The videos showed a half-naked woman lying seemingly unconscious face-down in the back of a pick-up truck in Gaza filled with armed men.
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old student from Berlin, who was on vacation in Israel, was killed at a kibbutz close to Gaza, her family and media reports said.
“We are trying to come to terms with losing Caro [Caroline],” her sister Anja Pasquesi wrote on Instagram late Monday.
“We are absolutely heartbroken,” Pasquesi said.
German authorities have declined to make any comment on cases of Germans killed in the conflict.
Caroline’s partner, Danny Darlington, is British, reports said. He was also reportedly killed in the attack.
Foreign governments have tried to determine how many of their citizens were dead, missing or in need of medical help or flights home from Israel.
US President Joe Biden has confirmed that 11 American citizens were killed and an undetermined number remain unaccounted for. It was not yet clear if the missing are dead, in hiding, or had been taken hostage.
Biden said the US believes it is likely that American citizens may be among those being held hostage by Hamas, but officials are working to confirm that.
On Tuesday, the families of four US-Israeli citizens who have been missing since the attack held a press conference. Several of them asked Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to intervene for the release of their relatives and others held by Hamas.
British national Natanel Young, 20, was killed while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. Hundreds attended his Jerusalem funeral, which was interrupted by rocket fire from Gaza.
The British Embassy in Israel also confirmed to Sky News that British-Israeli Jake Marlow was missing in the area after having been at the same outdoor rave party near Re’im as Louk. According to reports, Marlow, who moved to Israel two years ago, was working security and has not been heard from since 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning.
Eighteen Thais were feared dead based on reports from employers, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke said Tuesday. A first batch of 15 evacuees was scheduled to board a flight to arrive in Thailand on Thursday.
Ambassador to Israel Pannabha Chandraramya said the Thai Embassy was in touch with Israeli authorities about Thai nationals who were abducted by terror groups but has not been informed of their conditions or whereabouts.
The Austrian government said three Austrian-Israeli dual citizens may be among the people kidnapped. Italy’s foreign minister said an Italian-Israeli couple living on the Be’eri kibbutz had been missing since the incursion and were “probably taken hostage.”
In addition, a French citizen, a 20-year-old IDF soldier, has been confirmed killed, according to a French diplomat. Several more French citizens are still missing, said the official on Sunday.
Nepal has confirmed that ten of its citizens, who were on a year-long agricultural program, were killed.
Cambodia has also said one of its citizens, a student, was killed.