Hamas appeared to show the dead bodies of two Israeli hostages after warning Israel they might be killed if it did not stop its bombardment of Gaza.
A new video released by the Palestinian militant group purportedly showed the bodies of Yossi Sharabi, 53, and Itai Svirsky, 38, who had appeared in an initial video on Sunday.
It also showed a third Israeli hostage, Noa Argamani, 26, saying the two were killed by “our own IDF strikes,” referring to the Israeli military.
Israel’s defence minister accused the Palestinian militant group of carrying out ‘psychological abuse’.
The three are among some 240 people taken hostage by Islamist Hamas militants during a surprise cross-border rampage into southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Around half of those hostages were released during a short-lived November truce, but Israel says 132 remain in Gaza and that 25 have died in captivity.
The three Israelis were shown in a Hamas video on Sunday in which the group urged the Israeli government to halt its aerial and ground offensive and bring about their release.
It ended with the caption: “Tomorrow (Monday) we will inform you of their fate.”
On Monday, keeping up the psychological pressure, Hamas released a video clip featuring the faces of the three hostages and offering three options: all three are killed, “some are killed, some are injured”, or all three are spared. It ended with the message: “Tonight we will inform you of their fate.”
Israeli forces continued bombarding targets across the Palestinian enclave on Monday and clashing with the militants in southern and central areas.
Twelve Palestinians were killed and others wounded in an Israeli airstrike overnight on a house in Gaza City in the north, health officials said, while plumes of smoke rose above the main southern city of Khan Younis shelled by Israeli tanks.
The Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Press Agency SAFA reported fierce fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli forces in Khan Younis, while Israeli tank barrages were also reported near the Al-Bureij and Al-Maghazi in central Gaza.
Palestinian health officials in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis said later on Monday seven people were killed and others hurt in an Israeli missile strike nearby the medical facility.
The Oct. 7 assault, in which Israel says more than 1,200 people were killed, has turned much of Gaza into a wasteland and killed, health officials say, some 24,100 people and wounded nearly 61,000.
Health officials said 132 were killed in the past 24 hours, suggesting to Palestinians that there has been little let-up in the intensity of Israel’s offensive despite its announcement of a shift to a new, more targeted phase.
Israel’s military said it had withdrawn another division of troops as part of plans for more targeted operations against Hams leaders in the south after an initial all-out offensive centred on the heavily built-up northern end of the Strip.
Almost two million displaced people are sheltering in tents and other temporary accommodation in southern Gaza amid the fighting, and are facing increased risks of starvation and disease due to chronic shortages of food, fuel and medicines.