As the war between Israel and Hamas marked 100 days on Sunday, the Palestinian militant group released a video showing three Israeli hostages pleading for their lives. Hamas said it would announce the captives’ fate on Monday, issuing a chilling threat in the midst of some of the deadliest fighting yet in the conflict.
Hostages Shown in Propaganda Video
The video aired on Hamas-affiliated TV station Al-Aqsa showed hostages Noa Argaman, Yossi Sharabai, and Itay Svirsky wearing brown prison uniforms. Hamas gunmen stand behind them as the hostages face the camera and ask for information about their families and plead for their release.
Argaman, a 21-year-old Israeli woman who was kidnapped at the start of the war, cries in the video as she appeals to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept Hamas’ demands.
“I miss my family, I want to see them again. Please help me,” Argaman says.
Sharabai, 32, tells viewers he was captured along with other soldiers in southern Israel in an ambush by Hamas militants. Svirsky does not speak in the video but displays a note written in Hebrew.
The video represents Hamas’ first proof that some or all of the hostages are still alive 100 days into the war. Their fate had been unknown recently amid heavy Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Hamas Threatens to Announce Captives’ Fate
After the video aired, Hamas officials delivered threatening statements about revealing the prisoners’ fate on Monday.
“We will determine their fate tomorrow, God willing,” said Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing. “Tomorrow, God willing, we will inform you of their fate.”
Abu Obeida’s remarks followed the video showing the hostages, indicating Hamas may be preparing to execute them or disclose that they have already been killed by Israeli strikes. With Israeli airstrikes intensifying and targeting Hamas leaders and infrastructure over the weekend, observers expressed concern the militants may retaliate against the captives they still hold.
“The lives of the Palestinian prisoners are not safe anymore,” said Basem Naim, a former Hamas health minister in Gaza. “We hold fully responsible the government of Israel and the leadership of the army for the lives and safety of the Palestinian prisoners.”
Israel Attempts Hostage Rescue Missions
As Hamas issued its threats, the Israeli military continued efforts to locate and rescue its missing citizens. On Sunday, Israeli special forces carried out an operation in a Gaza City neighborhood aimed at freeing a hostage, the army said.
The mission encountered heavy clashes, and the forces killed four Hamas militants in a firefight before retreating under the cover of airstrikes. Hamas said it thwarted the rescue attempt, showing the challenges Israel faces in retrieving its captured soldiers and civilians.
“Israel will continue to make efforts, overt and covert, to bring home its citizens held by the terrorist organization Hamas,” an Israeli military spokesman pledged on Monday.
Families Desperate for News as War Drags On
For the families of the hostages shown in the video, the images provided a painful glimpse of their loved ones’ continued captivity as the war approaches four months.
Noa Argaman’s mother, Lea, told an Israeli TV channel the video “burns the heart” to see her daughter pleading while held by Hamas.
“We love you and miss you and think of you all the time,” Lea said. Argaman was kidnapped by Hamas militants on a motorcycle in a Nov. 20 border infiltration that marked the start of the war, shocking Israelis.
Yossi Sharabai’s wife, Yael, said her family feels frustrated with the lack of progress on securing his release after 100 days.
“It’s hard to keep going like this, without knowing what is happening to him and how he is doing,” Yael said through tears in an interview Sunday. “We feel like everyone has forgotten about him.”
Talks on Long-Term Ceasefire Remain Stalled
Efforts to broker a lasting ceasefire between the bitter enemies remain stalled after previous short-term truces quickly collapsed. Hamas continues demanding the end of Israel’s blockade on Gaza, while Israel wants all hostages released and Hamas disarmed.
Over the weekend, Israeli jets pounded Gaza with dozens of airstrikes targeting homes, Hamas facilities and commanders. Militants fired barrages of rockets at Israeli cities in response.
At least 35 Palestinians have been reported killed since Friday, including senior Hamas figures and civilians. Gaza health officials say more than 5,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict so far. Israel says it has killed over 9,000 militants.
On the Israeli side, shrapnel from a Hezbollah rocket attack killed two civilians Sunday. Israeli authorities vowed retaliation against the Lebanese militants for opening a new front.
Conflict Risks Regional Conflagration
As the war hits the grim milestone of 100 days, the increasing violence and turmoil has raised worries it could spiral into a larger regional war.
Israel remains mired in an open-ended operation in Gaza trying to degrade Hamas’ capabilities. With missiles now coming from Lebanon, Israel faces foes on multiple borders.
Hamas’ threats to execute hostages also risk provoking an even tougher Israeli response. Meanwhile Hamas rebuffed the UN’s call for an immediate cease-fire over the weekend, saying conditions aren’t ripe yet to stop fighting.
With both sides dug in, the conflict looks set to rage on, bringing more death and hardship for civilians caught in the crossfire. Arab states led by Egypt plan to hold an emergency summit to discuss solutions, but previous peace efforts have failed to make progress.
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|Hamas airs video of 3 hostages, war hits 100 days amid heavy fighting
The chilling video of the Israeli hostages and Hamas’ threats to announce their fate Monday represent an ominous turn after 100 days of brutal warfare in Gaza. As Israel continues efforts to locate and free the captives, their families wait desperately for news, while talks on ending the wider conflict remain stalled. With violence escalating, the war runs the risk of growing into a regional conflagration with unpredictable consequences for both sides.
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