Relatives of Israeli hostages demand government return to the negotiating table

Through the publication of a new video on the kidnapping of five girls on 7 October, they hope that the government and the international community will reach an agreement that will allow the release of the more than 100 hostages held captive in Gaza by Hamas 
Fotografías de los secuestrados por Hamás en una plaza de Tel Aviv, Israel - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/MARGARITA ARREDONDAS
Photographs of Hamas abductees in a square in Tel Aviv, Israel - PHOTO/ATALAYAR/MARGARITA ARREDONDAS
  1. What is known about the abducted girls? 
  2. Egypt resumes negotiations after threatening to pull out altogether 

Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniella Gilboa and Naama Levy had been assigned to the Nahal Oz base in southern Israel to carry out surveillance duties. On 7 October, during the Hamas attack, a group of terrorists stormed the base, killing most of the soldiers and taking the five girls hostage. Since then, more than 200 days later, they are still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.  

In order to return to the negotiating table and to put pressure on the Israeli government and the international community, the association of the families of the Israeli hostages has published a new video on the kidnapping of these 5 girls aged 18-20.  

As the Hostages' Families Forum warns, "the images reveal the violent, humiliating and traumatic treatment to which the girls were subjected on the day of their abduction". "The video, which lasts 3 minutes and 10 seconds, was edited and censored to exclude the most disturbing scenes," they add. 

The video, recorded by body cameras worn by the terrorists on 7 October, begins inside the base's shelter, where the young women are seen shocked and injured as armed men tie their hands and shout, "Dogs, we will step on you!"  

Naama Levy, one of the girls, assures the terrorists that she has friends in Palestine. Levy participated in the "Hands of Peace" project in the United States promoting cooperation between young Israelis, Palestinians and Americans in the search for peace in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Liri Albag asks for someone to speak English, to which the terrorists respond by shouting and ordering silence. "Our brothers died because of you. We will shoot you all," they say.  

Liri Albag asks for someone to speak English. Next to her are Naama Levy and Agam Berger

The footage also shows the terrorists praying while still in the shelter with the girls tied up and sitting with their backs against the wall. One of the terrorists describes the hostages as "women who can get pregnant", according to the translation provided with the video. 

As the Hostage Families Forum warns, "the images reveal the violent, humiliating and traumatic treatment to which the girls were subjected on the day of their abduction"

However, this term - "sabaya" - can also be translated as "captive woman". This word was previously used by Daesh terrorists to refer to sex slaves, especially Yazidi women. "These are the Zionists", one indicates, while another says to one of the girls: "you are very beautiful". 

One of the terrorists says to one of the girls: "you are very beautiful"

Later, the video shows the terrorists carrying the girls to a vehicle while gunshots are heard in the background. One of the girls, Daniella Gilboa, is limping due to a leg injury. The soldiers are then seen again inside the vehicle, while the terrorists shout at them.  

During that morning, at least 15 female soldiers were killed and seven of them were abducted. Ori Megidsh, 18, was rescued on 30 October by the Israeli army after 23 days in captivity and Noa Marciano died during her abduction. Her body was recovered by Israeli soldiers. 

Despite the harshness of the images, the girls' families wanted to broadcast the video to make the world aware of the suffering of the abductees and for key countries such as Qatar and the United States to push for a new agreement. 

"The world needs to know that Hamas is still holding young, innocent women who are not to blame for anything," Sasha Ariev, sister of 19-year-old hostage Karina Ariev, told EFE

"We feel that there is less and less hope. In the international media we only see pictures from Gaza and nobody talks about our hostages anymore. They don't care about them. With this video we are trying to put pressure on Hamas, Qatar and the United States," Ashley Agam, Agam Berger's cousin, also 19, told the news agency.

Ayelen Levy, the mother of 19-year-old Naama Levy, pointed out that this video is only "a fraction" of the suffering of her daughters and the other hostages. "That's one day. She has been there for 229 days", she stressed in a video released by the Hostage Families Forum.  

What is known about the abducted girls? 

Naama Levy, the great-granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, appeared in one of the first videos that began circulating on social media on the day of the attack, becoming one of the main faces of the hostages. 

The footage shows her being dragged out of a car with her hands tied and her clothes bloodied - especially on the back of her thighs - by a gunman while shouting 'Allah is great!". This video has been released to denounce the sexual assaults suffered by the Israeli hostages. 

Along with Doron Steinbrecher, another girl kidnapped on 7 October from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Daniella Gilboa and Karina Ariev appeared in a propaganda video released by Hamas in January.  

In addition, some of the hostages released during the November truce claimed that Liri Albag was forced to cook and clean for her captors. In November, the British newspaper Daily Mail published a picture of her place of captivity, describing it as a child's bedroom. For this reason, it is believed that she was being held by a family, not terrorists.  

The released hostages also claimed that Agam Berger was alive in November. Berger, through a teenage girl who was released, sent a happy birthday message to her father.  

Egypt resumes negotiations after threatening to pull out altogether 

One of the aims of this video is to return to the negotiating table to push for a deal that would see the hostages released. In addition to these 5 girls, there are believed to be more than 100 other hostages in Gaza. The terrorists are also holding the bodies of some of those killed on 7 October, as well as those who died in captivity.  

However, the talks have encountered new challenges after Egypt changed the terms of a ceasefire proposal that Israel had already signed earlier this month, CNN reveals. Cairo, however, has denied these accusations and is threatening to withdraw from the negotiating table altogether.  

Subsequently, the Qatari media outlet The New Arab reported that Egypt had taken steps to resume talks after Israel's War Cabinet ordered its negotiators to resume talks.