June 13th, 2024

Israel says 4 more hostages found dead in Gaza, including 3 older men who appeared in video

By Julia Frankel, The Associated Press on June 3, 2024.

Israeli soldiers work on a tank in a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza border in southern Israel, Monday, June 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

JERUSALEM (AP) – The Israeli military on Monday confirmed the deaths of four more hostages held by Hamas — including three older men seen in a Hamas video begging for their release.

The three men, Amiram Cooper, Yoram Metzger and Haim Peri, were all age 80 or older. Looking weak and wary, they appeared in a video in December released by Hamas under the title, “Don’t let us grow old here.”

The fourth hostage was identified as Nadav Popplewell.

Israel’s military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the four men died together in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis when Israel was operating there. The cause of death was not immediately known.

“We are checking all of the options,” Hagari said. “There are a lot of questions.”

Israel carried out a major offensive in Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold, early this year.

Hamas claimed in May that Popplewell had died after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike, but provided no evidence.

Cooper, Metzger and Peri were featured in a Hamas propaganda video in which Peri, clearly under duress, said in the video that all three men had chronic illnesses and accused Israel of abandoning them.

The deaths added to the growing list of hostages who Israel says have died in captivity. On Oct. 7, Hamas took some 250 hostages back to Gaza. Roughly half were released during a brief ceasefire period in November. Of some 130 remaining in the strip, about 85 are believed to still be alive. That’s as Israeli leadership brushes aside a Biden proposal to end the war and initiate another hostages-for-prisoners exchange.

Israeli bombardments and ground operations in Gaza have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel is expanding its offensive in the southern city of Rafah, once the main hub of humanitarian aid operations. The Israeli invasion has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians facing widespread hunger.

Last week, President Joe Biden detailed a three-phase deal that was proposed by Israel to Hamas militants that he said would lead to the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and could end the grinding, nearly 8-month-old war.

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