Israel's Netanyahu condemns 'cruel' Hamas video of Israeli hostages

Three female Israeli hostages seen in video released by Hamas
Three female Israeli hostages seen in video released by Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned as "cruel propaganda" a video released by Hamas showing Israeli hostages taken during the 7 October attacks.

The clip, released on Monday, shows three Israeli women, one of whom berates Mr Netanyahu and calls for the release of the hostages.

Hamas seized at least 230 hostages in the attacks and at least 1,400 Israelis were killed.

Only four have so far been released.

Israel has launched a massive military operation in Gaza, saying the aim is to destroy Hamas and its rule over the territory.

The Hamas-run health ministry says at least 8,000 Palestinians have been killed.

The video of the hostages was released by the armed wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

We do not know anything about the conditions under which it was filmed.

Only one of the hostages addresses the camera throughout the clip.

We will not publish the video. Prisoners of war and hostages are protected under international humanitarian law, and the BBC does not broadcast material which may have been filmed under duress.

In a statement, Mr Netanyahu said: "This is cruel psychological propaganda by Hamas-Isis [so-called Islamic State].

"We are hugging the families. We will do everything to return all the kidnapped and missing people home."

He also named the hostages as Elena Trupanov, Danielle Aloni and Rimon Kirsht.

"I hug you," Mr Netanyahu said.

Ms Aloni's five-year-old daughter, as well as her sister and brother-in-law and their three-year-old twin daughters, was also kidnapped on 7 October.

At a news conference on Monday, Ms Aloni's father said his heart had "nearly stopped beating" when he saw her picture. He called on the Emir of Qatar, who has served as a key mediator in the hostage talks, to "make every possible effort to bring them home".

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On 21 October, two weeks after the initial attacks, Hamas released two hostages, mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan.

The group said the pair, who have US-Israeli citizenship, were freed for "humanitarian reasons".

Two days later, another two women, Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifschitz, 85, were also freed. Both are Israeli but were released into Egypt.

Hamas said again that it had freed them on humanitarian and health grounds, but claimed Israel had refused to receive them. Both women's husbands are still being held.

It is no accident that the only images of the hostages we have seen since their violent abduction have been of women.

There is absolutely no doubt that the release of the footage is designed to play on the emotions of all Israelis in ways that are likely to make Mr Netanyahu's situation even harder.

He is already under enormous pressure from the families of hostages to do more to release their loved ones. Two days ago, he said this was his second priority, after the need to destroy Hamas.

In the video, Ms Aloni delivers a furious attack on Mr Netanyahu's alleged failure to protect civilians on 7 October.

Even if it was uttered under conditions of extreme duress, it plays into an anguished debate in Israel about how the government and the military allowed any of this to happen.

At a separate news conference on Monday, Mr Netanyahu said he felt the "anguish" of the hostages' families, but insisted that ground action represented the best chance of freeing them.

"Hamas will not do it unless they're under pressure. They simply will not do it. This creates pressure," he said.