War Between Israel and Hamas: Latest Updates – The New York Times

The Israeli military said on Monday that four more hostages who were kidnapped in the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 had died months ago in Gaza, a revelation that would likely add pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to move forward with a ceasefire. . fire deal.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli army spokesman, said at a news conference on Monday that the four hostages were believed to have been killed together “several months ago” near Khan Younis in southern Gaza while Israeli forces were operating in the zone. area. The military identified the men as Haim Perry, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper and Nadav Popplewell.

Admiral Hagari said the decision to announce the deaths of the hostages on Monday was based on “additional intelligence, which had been recently verified, which made it possible to determine today that the four are no longer alive,” adding that he knew there would emerge “difficult questions.” emerge about the circumstances of their deaths. The families of the four had been notified that Hamas was holding their bodies and the circumstances of their deaths were “still under examination,” the Israeli military said.

The Hostage Families Forum, an advocacy group, issued a statement demanding that the Israeli government immediately negotiate an agreement for the release of the remaining hostages. He said the four who were declared dead on Monday were alive when they were abducted from Kibbutz Nirim and Kibbutz Nir Oz, and that there had been “signs of life” in the intervening period.

“His murder in captivity is a sign of shame and a sad reflection of the importance of delaying previous agreements,” the group said.

Pressure on Netanyahu to end the fighting in Gaza has increased since last week, when President Biden publicly endorsed what he said was a three-phase ceasefire proposal put forward by Israel. But Netanyahu’s far-right political allies have threatened to collapse his government if Israel reaches any agreement that would end the war without eliminating Hamas.

On Monday, Netanyahu told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that President Biden had not presented the “full picture” when he described the proposed ceasefire, according to a person who attended the meeting and requested anonymity to discuss the deliberations. private. . But the Israeli leader expressed his readiness for a 42-day pause in fighting, the person said, embracing at least part of the first phase of the ceasefire plan.

A spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, Abu Ubaida, had said on March 1 that three of the men now declared dead (Cooper, Metzger and Perry) were among seven hostages who had been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

All four hostages Israel said Monday had died. Clockwise from top left: Haim Peri, Yoram Metzger, Nadav Popplewell and Amiram Cooper.Credit…Bring them home now, via Reuters

Hamas said on May 11 that the fourth man, Mr. Popplewell, had died from wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike more than a month earlier and had been unable to receive adequate medical care due to the destruction of hospitals. of Gaza by Israel. That same day, Hamas had released an undated video of him in captivity.

The New York Times reported in February that Israeli intelligence officials had concluded that at least 30 hostages had been killed since the start of the war. Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in March that it believed Israeli military operations in the enclave may have killed more than 70 hostages in total.

Israeli forces shot and killed three of the hostages in December while carrying a makeshift white flag, an incident that shocked Israeli society and renewed outrage with the government for continuing its offensive in Gaza instead of negotiating another truce to allow the capture of more hostages. released.

Another hostage, a grandmother who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, was likely killed by Israeli fire from a helicopter, the Israeli military said in April.

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