Sister of slain hostage Svirsky says he would have been better off killed on October 7

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t end for him… in Be’eri,” says Merav Svirsky, accusing government of putting captives’ lives in danger by keeping up military pressure

Merav Svirsky, wearing a shirt picturing her hostage brother, Itay Svirsky, who was murdered by Hamas in captivity. (KAN11)
Merav Svirsky, wearing a shirt picturing her hostage brother, Itay Svirsky, who was murdered by Hamas in captivity. (KAN11)

The sister of murdered hostage Itay Svirsky said that she wished he had been killed at the outset of the Israel-Hamas War instead of suffering through captivity before his eventual death.

Svirsky was one of three hostages featured in a Hamas video released on Sunday, in which he was alive and speaking. On Monday, Hamas stated that Svirsky had been killed in captivity and Israeli security forces confirmed his death on Tuesday.

In an interview with Army Radio on Thursday, Merav Svirsky recounted how her brother was taken from their mother’s home in Kibbutz Be’eri during the October 7 invasion after he was shot in the arm. Their parents were both killed that day, along with approximately 1,200 others.

“It’s unfortunate that it didn’t end for him, too, on October 7 in Be’eri along with my parents,” Svirsky said.  “That way he would have been saved from 99 days of nightmares and fear… It’s awful to say it, but it’s the truth.”

Svirsky recalled receiving word in early December that her brother was alive in captivity, calling it “a small moment of celebration and happiness that quickly turned into extreme fear.”

Those fears were realized this week when Hamas released a pair of propaganda videos that included Itay. In the first, filmed on an unknown date, he and fellow captives Noa Argamani and Yossi Sharabi are seen identifying themselves and asking the Israeli government to bring them home.

A day later, Hamas released a second video showing what Hamas claimed were the dead bodies of Svirsky and Sharabi, with Argamani reporting that the pair were killed in an IDF strike.

The Israeli military called the claim a “Hamas lie,” although it did notify the families several days earlier that there was reason to fear for the two men’s lives.

On Tuesday, they were both officially declared dead. Noa Argamani is believed by the IDF to still be alive.

Speaking to Army Radio, Svirsky aimed angry criticism at the government for failing to rescue her brother and the other hostages still in captivity, claiming that their decisions had put him in danger.

“He was shot by Hamas apparently out of their stress due to a nearby strike — the military pressure is endangering the hostages,” she said.

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

The comment was a direct rejection of claims by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that increased military pressure is the key to rescuing the hostages.

On Monday, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that, while Svirsky and Sharabi were certainly not killed by Israeli strikes, there was a possibility that the hostages were located close to a building that was targeted by the IDF and may have been endangered.

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.

Some families of hostages have campaigned for Israel to halt its military action in Gaza out of fear that hostages could be killed and in order to negotiate for their freedom.

“We screamed and shouted for such a long time, and in the end, our worst fears came true,” a relative of Sharabi told Kan radio on Wednesday.

Itay Svirsky was taken captive on October 7, 2023, from his mother’s house in Kibbutz Be’eri, when Hamas terrorists assaulted the community. He was declared dead on January 16, 2024. (Courtesy)

On Monday, Gallant said that military pressure was the only thing bringing Hamas to the table for hostage negotiations, though the talks have failed to see any significant progress beyond a deal this week meant to get medicine to hostages.

“If the fire stops, the fate of the hostages will be sealed for many years in the captivity of Hamas. Without military pressure, no one will talk to us. Only from a position of strength can the hostages be freed,” he said.

Canaan Lidor and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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