Islamic Jihad issues clip of 2 hostages who call on Israel to secure their freedom

Gadi Mozes and Elad Katzir seen for first time since being kidnapped during Oct. 7 onslaught; Mozes’s son says family happy for sign of life but he ‘looks completely different’

Hostages Gadi Mozes (L) and Elad Katzir in a video published by Palestinian Islamic Jihad on December 19, 2023. (Screen capture/X)
Hostages Gadi Mozes (L) and Elad Katzir in a video published by Palestinian Islamic Jihad on December 19, 2023. (Screen capture/X)

The military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group published a video Tuesday of Israeli hostages Gadi Mozes and Elad Katzir, in which they call on Israel’s leadership to urgently act to bring about their release.

Katzir and Mozes were taken hostage from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. The new video was the first sign of life from them.

Seemingly speaking under duress, the pair are heard in separate clips warning they could die at any moment due to IDF strikes in Gaza.

Mozes’s wife Efrat was murdered on October 7. Katzir’s mother Hanna was kidnapped and eventually freed under the previous release deal, while his father Rami was murdered.

Most Israeli media does not publish such videos out of respect for the families of the abducted and in order to not lend a hand to the psychological warfare being employed by terror groups.

Mozes’s son said the family was happy to see the first sign of life since his father was kidnapped, but noted he “looks completely different.”

“Dad is really skinny, you can see he is exhausted,” Yair Mozes told the Ynet news site. “Normally he smiles a lot and is alert, and here you see bags under his eyes. He’s not in a good physical situation, there’s no doubt.”

“It’s obvious to us that there aren’t his words in video and that they told him what to say,” the younger Mozes added, while saying he hopes there will soon be a new agreement for the release of hostages.

Elad Katzir (L) and Gadi Mozes. (Courtesy)

The Islamic JIhad video comes a day after Hamas issued its own propaganda video showing three elderly Israeli hostages from Nir Oz.

One man speaking in the video identifies himself as 79-year-old Chaim Peri, who was abducted by Hamas from his home. The other two hostages are fellow Nir Oz residents Amiram Cooper, 84, and Yoram Metzger, 80.

Only Peri speaks in the video and there is no information indicating when it was filmed, though the men’s appearance indicates it was after some time in captivity.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari swiftly labeled the Hamas video as “atrocious terror.”

“It shows the cruelty of Hamas against elderly civilians, innocents, who require medical attention,” Hagari said at an evening press conference. “The world must work to allow medical aid and to verify their condition.”

Hebrew media outlets cited unnamed Israeli officials as assessing Hamas published the video to pressure the government into agreeing to another hostage release deal.

Screen capture from undated propaganda video released by the Hamas terror group on December 18, 2023 shows (L-R) Amiram Cooper, Chaim Peri, and Yoram Metzger, three Israelis held hostage since October 7 in the Gaza Strip. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Last month, over a hundred Israelis and other nationals were freed from captivity during a week-long truce that ended when Hamas violated the terms by not releasing female hostages, as it had agreed to, according to Israeli officials.

The new videos come at a time of reported high-level efforts to hammer out another hostage release agreement, which is said to put a focus on elderly captives.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday evening with a few of the families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza. “Retrieving them is a top goal,” he said. “I’ve just sent the head of Mossad to Europe twice to advance a process for the release of our abductees. I will spare no effort on the matter.”

Mossad chief David Barnea met with CIA director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Warsaw on Monday to discuss efforts to reach a new hostage deal, according to multiple reports in the Hebrew press. A US official also confirmed the meeting to the Associated Press.

Barnea was previously widely reported to have met with Al Thani in Norway on Friday night.

Qatar was a key mediator in the first hostage deal that saw 105 civilians released from Hamas captivity in Gaza over seven days in late November. The freed hostages were 81 Israelis, 23 Thai nationals, and one Filipino.

Hamas leaders have publicly said they will only free hostages in exchange for a permanent ceasefire, though reports in recent days have indicated talks for another truce to release more hostages may be advancing.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh was set to visit Egypt Wednesday for talks on a ceasefire and hostage deal, a source close to Hamas told AFP.

Qatar-based Haniyeh will head a “high-level” Hamas delegation to Egypt, where he is due to hold talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and others, the source said. The discussions will be “on stopping the aggression and the war to prepare an agreement for the release of prisoners [and] the end of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” he added.

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh makes a televised address on December 13, 2023. (Screenshot: X; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza was triggered by the terror onslaught on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists poured into Israel from the land, air and sea, launching the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.

The terrorists rampaged across more than 20 communities in southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians massacred in their homes and at a music festival, and seizing some 240 hostages.

It is believed that 128 hostages remain in Gaza — not all of them alive. Four hostages were released before the first truce, and one was rescued by troops.

The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and the bodies of three hostages who were mistakenly killed by the military on Friday have been returned to Israel. The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 21 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Following the deaths of the three hostages at the hands of IDF troops in Gaza last week, several reports on Saturday night indicated that Israel was looking to boost efforts to reach a new hostage deal with Hamas. The deaths also fueled calls in Israel for the government to reach a deal and hundreds rallied in Tel Aviv demanding negotiation of an agreement to release all the remaining hostages.

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