June 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

One-Third of Hostages in Gaza Believed Dead

June 4, 2024 | Flash Brief

One-Third of Hostages in Gaza Believed Dead

Latest Developments

More than one-third of the Israeli hostages still in captivity in Gaza are believed to have died, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced on June 4. According to an official Israeli tally, 43 of the 120 hostages who remain in Hamas captivity after they were abducted on October 7 are no longer alive. The latest figure was released as the IDF confirmed the deaths of four additional hostages in a June 3 briefing.

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari cited new intelligence that Chaim Peri, 80, Yoram Metzger, 80, Amiram Cooper, 84, and Nadav Popplewell, 51 were killed “several months ago while being held by Hamas terrorists” in the vicinity of Khan Younis. Hagari did not specify how the captives died, but in March, Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades, claimed that Peri, Metzger, and Cooper had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. Popplewell, a dual British-Israeli citizen, was most recently seen last month when he appeared in a Hamas propaganda video from an unknown location. Cooper, Metzger, and Peri all appeared in a separate Hamas propaganda video released on December 18 in which they spoke about “suffering greatly in very harsh conditions.”

Noting that Hamas is still holding the bodies of the four victims, Hagari added that Israel is “thoroughly examining the circumstances of their deaths and checking all possibilities.” All four were abducted from kibbutzim close to Israel’s border with Gaza on October 7.

Separately, Hagari also announced the death of Dolev Yehud, a 35-year-old paramedic who was killed during the terrorist onslaught on October 7. Yehud was originally thought to have been abducted by Hamas until Israel’s National Institute of Forensic Medicine identified his remains among those slaughtered at Kibbutz Nir Oz.

Expert Analysis

“The Israeli government is well aware that every day that passes could be the last for a hostage held by Hamas, and that is why we’ve seen Israel put forward what would otherwise be widely considered a terrible ceasefire deal. That Hamas continues to reject sweetheart deals in favor of killing off hostages reminds us why this evil must be destroyed.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The tragic experience of the hostages languishing in captivity in Gaza proves beyond doubt that Hamas views them as bargaining chips for as long as they are useful — murdering them outright when this is no longer deemed to be the case. These war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the sexual abuse of female hostages, cannot go unpunished.” — Ben CohenFDD Senior Analyst and Rapid Response Manager

U.S. Citizens Among Remaining Hostages in Gaza

Hamas and other allied terrorist organizations abducted more than 250 people on October 7. In November 2023, about 100 hostages, mostly women and the elderly, were freed in a temporary ceasefire deal. Among those released were Popplewell’s mother and the wives of Cooper and Metzger.

The White House reported in January that as many as six Americans remained in Hamas captivity, along with the bodies of several dead hostages who were U.S. citizens. Israel has so far recovered the bodies of at least 21 hostages, most recently on May 24, when it repatriated the remains of Hanan Yablonka, 42, Michel Nisenbaum, 59, and Orion Hernandez Radoux, 30.

Israeli Amendment Condemning Hamas and Demanding Release of Hostages Passed by World Health Organization Assembly,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Recovers Bodies of Three More Hostages,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Recovers Another Hostage’s Body from Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

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Israel Israel at War