Israel says it fears for lives of two hostages after latest Hamas propaganda video

IDF rejects terror group’s claim Itay Svirsky and Yossi Sharabi were killed when the military targeted a building where they were being held; Noa Argamani believed to be alive

From left: Noa Argamani, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky, seen in an undated Hamas propaganda film released on January 14, 2024. (Screenshot combo)
From left: Noa Argamani, Yossi Sharabi and Itay Svirsky, seen in an undated Hamas propaganda film released on January 14, 2024. (Screenshot combo)

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari announced Monday that several days ago, the military notified the families of two hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip that it fears for their lives, based on new intelligence.

Hamas over the past day published videos showing hostages Itay Svirsky, Noa Argamani, and Yossi Sharabi. The latest propaganda video, published Monday evening, raised concerns regarding Svirsky and Sharabi. Argamani is believed by the IDF to be alive.

Hagari said Hamas’s claim that the military targeted a building where three Israeli hostages were being held, killing two of them, was a lie. However, he indicated that it was possible that the hostages were located close to a building that was targeted by the IDF and may have been endangered.

“Itay was not killed by our forces. This is a Hamas lie,” Hagari said. “The building where they were held was not a target and was not attacked by our forces.”

“We did not know their exact location in real-time. We do not strike where we know there are hostages. In retrospect, we know that we attacked targets close to the location where they were held,” Hagari said, adding that the IDF was investigating the footage in the propaganda clip published by Hamas.

The hostages were taken during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, when thousands of terrorists burst across the border from Gaza by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 captives of all ages — mostly civilians — in horrific acts of brutality.

Itay Svirsky, presumed taken captive on October 7, 2023, from his mother’s house in Kibbutz Be’eri, when Hamas terrorists assaulted the community. (Courtesy)

“In recent days, IDF representatives met with the families of Itay and the other hostage, and expressed grave concern for their fate, due to information we had,” Hagari said. Sharabi’s family had initially requested for him not to be named, but on Tuesday morning allowed his name to be published.

Sharabi, 53, was abducted by Hamas terrorists from Kibbutz Be’eri, along with his brother, Eli Sharabi.

Yossi (left) and Eli Sharabi, brothers who were each taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

Svirsky, 38, was abducted from his parents’ home in Kibbutz Be’eri, where he was visiting to celebrate the Simhat Torah holiday. Both his parents, Orit Svirsky and Rafi Svirsky, were murdered by Hamas terrorists. His 96-year-old grandmother Aviva Sela managed to survive the attack.

Argamani, 26, was abducted from the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im on the morning of October 7, and a video of her abduction was one of the first to be published online as Hamas terrorists massacred some 360 partygoers and abducted dozens more.

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had asked Beijing to help free Argamani, whose mother Liora is Chinese. Suffering from a terminal illness, Liora Argamani has appealed to be reunited with her daughter before she dies.

Liora Argamani in a recorded video message for her daughter, Noa Argamani, held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023. (Courtesy Sarai Givaty and Keren Kozlova)

It is believed that 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November. Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military. The Israel Defense Forces has confirmed the deaths of 25 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza. One more person is listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015, respectively, as well as the remains of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014.

“Even in these difficult times, we are in constant contact with the families, updating them with the details we know about their loved ones. We will continue to update them with every detail of verified information we have, and then the public as well,” Hagari said.

He said Hamas was “trying to take advantage of the fact that Israeli society sanctifies the lives of its people to sow fear.”

Noa Argamani is seen being kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during the massacre at the Supernova desert rave in the south on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

“Yes, Israeli society sanctifies the lives of its people, this is our strength, our concern for our citizens, and how we are determined to return the hostages. We work on all the means to return them home and avoid harming them. This is our compass, this is our moral duty,” Hagari added.

He also asked the public to avoid sharing rumors and unverified information.

Hamas has previously issued similar videos of hostages it is holding, in what Israel says is deplorable psychological warfare. Most Israeli media does not publish the clips themselves out of respect for the families of the abducted and in order to not lend a hand to the methods being employed by terror groups.

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