Hamas releases video of two hostages calling for Gaza deal

Agence France-Presse
Hamas releases video of two hostages calling for Gaza deal
People sit with tape over their mouth and hands bound together during a rally calling for the release of Israelis held hostage in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants, on the 200th day since their capture, outside Israel's Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv on April 23, 2024.
AFP / Ahmad Gharabli

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — Hamas's armed wing released video Saturday of two men held hostage in Gaza who are seen alive and urging Israeli authorities to strike a deal for the release of all the remaining captives.

Campaign group the Hostages and Missing Families Forum identified the two as Keith Siegel and Omri Miran who were abducted by militants during the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7. Siegel also has US citizenship.

"The proof of life from Keith Siegel and Omri Miran is the clearest evidence that the Israeli government must do everything to approve a deal for the return of all the hostages before Independence Day (on May 14)," the forum said in a statement.

"The living should return for rehabilitation, and the murdered should receive a dignified burial."

The latest video comes just three days after Hamas released another video showing hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin alive.

Siegel and Miran appeared to speak under duress.

"I have been here in Hamas captivity for 202 days. The situation here is unpleasant, difficult and there are many bombs," Miran, 47, is heard saying in the footage, indicating it was taken earlier this week.

"It's time to reach a deal that will get us out of here safe and healthy... Keep protesting, so that there will be a deal now."

Saturday's video comes as Hamas says it is studying Israel's latest counterproposal for a Gaza ceasefire after reports that mediator Egypt had sent a delegation to Israel to jump-start stalled negotiations.

Call for protests

Siegel, 64, who also spoke in the video, broke down as he talked of their captivity.

"We are in danger here, there are bombs, it is stressful and scary," he said, burying his face in his arms as he cried.

"I want to tell my family that I love you very much. It's important to me that you know that I am fine.

"I have very, very beautiful memories of last year's Passover that we all celebrated together. I really hope that we will have the best possible surprise," he said, appealing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reach a deal soon.

Siegel said he seen footage of demonstrations in Israel calling for a deal to secure the release of hostages.

"I hope and believe that you will all continue," he said, addressing the demonstrators who have been holding regular rallies calling on Netanyahu to agree a deal.

The Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, published some lines in Hebrew in the video.

"The military pressure did not succeed in freeing your captive sons," it said.

"Do what you need to do before it is too late," said another message in Hebrew.

'Deal now'

Later on Saturday, crowds of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv demanding that the authorities strike a deal for the release of the hostages.

"A deal now," chanted demonstrators as they called for Netanyahu and his government to resign.

Miran's father Dani attended the rally and urged Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar to agree a deal.

"All the people of Israel and the nations of the world want to see an end to the bloodshed and especially an end to the suffering of your people," he said.

"Please, one request -- make a decision now."

Organisers of the rally showed the video as protesters chanted against the authorities, an AFP correspondent reported.

"Keith, I love you. We will fight until your return," said Siegel's wife Aviv who took part in the protest.

Israeli authorities accuse Sinwar of planning the October 7 attack during which Hamas-led militants abducted some 250 people.

The military says 129 of them are still held captive in Gaza, including 34 who are dead.

The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory military offensive in Gaza has killed 34,388 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.

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