Hamas Claims Israeli Hostages Killed in Airstrikes; Israel Denies Accusations

Qatar mediates talks, urging solutions, while negotiations include aid, ceasefire amid internal divisions.

Hamas Claims Israeli Hostages Killed in Airstrikes; Israel Denies Accusations

In a video released by Hamas, the militant group claimed that two Israeli hostages, identified as Yossi Sharabi, 53, and Itay Svirsky, 38, were killed by Israeli airstrikes. The undated footage featured a female hostage, Noa Argamani, 26, who spoke under duress, confirming the deaths of the two men. However, the video's authenticity remains unverified, and there is no independent confirmation of Hamas's allegations.

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari denied the claims, stating that Itai Svirsky was not killed by Israeli forces. He refuted the notion that the building where the hostages were held had been a target of Israeli attacks.

The hostages were among approximately 240 people taken by Hamas during an attack on southern Israel in October. While around half were released during a brief November truce, Israel asserts that 132 are still held, with 25 reportedly dead in captivity.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant accused Hamas of "psychological abuse" and emphasized that the military operation in southern Gaza was approaching its end. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to continue the war until "total victory" over Hamas, raising concerns about reconciling this goal to free hostages.

Negotiations, stalled after a brief truce in November, have resumed, with Qatar serving as the principal mediator. The Israeli cabinet's internal divisions persist, with moderates advocating for a hostage release deal and hardliners prioritizing crushing Hamas.

Recent developments include an agreement to allow vital medications into Gaza for hostages and an increase in humanitarian aid. Talks also revolve around a potential temporary ceasefire to facilitate the delivery of supplies.

While the focus remains on a cessation of hostilities, the negotiators are grappling with minor issues to break the deadlock, as concerns about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza continue to mount.