Hamas leaders are split over decision to kidnap Israeli women and children with one faction calling for captives to be released, according to Middle Eastern intelligence agencies
- Hamas terrorists have abducted 150 civilians including women and children
- Read our Israel-Hamas live blog to stay up-to-date with all latest developments
Hamas leaders are split over the decision to kidnap scores of women and children from their homes in Israel, with one faction calling for the captives to be released, Middle Eastern intelligence agencies have claimed.
The terrorists published harrowing videos showing the gunmen dragging screaming mothers and their young children towards waiting trucks before driving them away from their livelihoods.
Among the videos was one that showed a helpless Shiri Silberman-Bibas, 30, being abducted from her home along with her three-year-old son Ariel and nine-month-old son Kfir. Her family have not been heard from since.
Another was student Noa Argamini, 25, who was videoed screaming ‘don’t kill me’ as she was dragged away from the Nova festival by laughing Hamas gunmen, who had massacred 260 revellers moments earlier.
While the prevailing view among Hamas leaders that taking the 150 hostages would create support among the Palestinians and also be a useful bargaining chip for prisoner exchanges, several believe it was a mistake to abduct women and children, the intelligence agencies told The Times.
Some in the leadership are concerned that because this decision has been met with global revulsion along with comparisons between Hamas and the Islamic State, it could provide legitimacy for a harder Israeli strike on Gaza.
Young Israeli women was dragged by her hair to the boot of a truck by Hamas terrorists. Her clothes were drenched in blood
Student Noa Argamini, 25, was filmed screaming ‘don’t kill me’ as she was dragged away from the Nova festival by laughing Hamas gunmen
Shiri Silberman-Bibas, 30, is believed to have been abducted along with her nine-month-old Kfir and three-year-old Ariel
Several Hamas leaders have since spoken to the Egyptian government in a bid to negotiate a potential swap of Israeli women and children in exchange for imprisoned Palestinians.
However, given that members of Hamas warned yesterday they will not hand over hostages until the fighting ends – a day after they would execute Israeli captives if the airstrikes continued – it’s unlikely this faction could convince the others to give up the women and children.
Earlier reports had suggested that Qatar had been mediating a potential prisoner swap – but Israel and Hamas have denied this.
Since the incursion began on Saturday, Hamas fighters have abducted up to 150 people, including women and children, from Israeli territory and dragged them back in Gaza amid their ruthless slaughter.
Among those abducted was Noa Argamani, 25, who was kidnapped with her boyfriend Avi Nathan during an attack on a music festival close to the Gaza border that left 260 people dead.
Video shows Noa sitting on the back of a terrorist’s motorcycle, with her arms outstretched towards her helpless boyfriend as she pleaded for her live.
She screams ‘Don’t kill me! No, no, no’ – but the gunman speeds off. Noa hasn’t been seen since. Her boyfriend Avi, distraught and helpless, is left behind in the desert. He too is missing.
Along with hundreds of other young Israelis, Noa and Avi had been enjoying a peace festival in the desert when they were forced to flee for their lives from Hamas terrorists.
Revellers had gathered for an all-night trance music rave near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the Gaza Strip, to celebrate the end of the Sukkot religious holiday.
But the festivities turned to chaos yesterday morning after Palestinian terrorists began firing rockets and gunshots into the crowd.
Footage circulated on social media showed hundreds of people screaming and crying as they fled the rave site on foot, pursued by the sound of gunfire.
Israeli mother Doron Asher, 34, and her two daughters, Raz, five, and Aviv, three, were also abducted by Hamas gunmen and held captive in Gaza. Doran had been visiting her mother in Nir Oz near the Gaza border when the terrorists attacked.
Her heartbroken husband Yoni Asher said he received a call from a panic-stricken Doron saying terrorists had stormed into the house.
After losing contact with her, Mr Asher saw a video of them on social media being loaded into a cart by militants. ‘I surely identified my wife, my two daughters and my mother-in-law on some kind of a cart, and terrorists of Hamas all around them,’ he said.
Doron Asher, 34, was taken hostage by Hamas gunmen and held captive in Gaza
Doron’s two daughters, Raz, five, and Aviv, three, were also reportedly captured by Hamas gunmen
Doron Asher Katz, 34, was visiting her mother in Nir Oz near the Gaza border with their two daughters, aged two and four, when Hamas attacked
Palestinians transport a captured Israeli civilian from Kibbutz Kfar Azza into the Gaza Strip
He was able to track his wife’s mobile phone and discovered that it was in Khan Yunis, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.
He said: ‘My little two girls, they are only babies, they are not even five years old and three years old.
‘I don’t know in what terms they are captive. I don’t know what happened to them.’
Mr Asher has appealed directly to Hamas to not hurt his family and has even offered to exchange himself for their safe return.
Separate video showed terrified hostages being taken to Gaza by Hamas fighters, who chanted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is great) as they led them away.
In one chilling video, a young Israeli woman, reported as being a soldier on social media, was seen lying in the back of an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) armoured vehicle commandeered by the terrorists. Then she was dragged by her hair out of the boot. Her clothes were drenched in blood.
As she was bundled into the back seat, cheering terrorists armed with Kalashnikov rifles shouted ‘Allahu akbar’. The fate of the unidentified woman is not known.
Further disturbing footage showed a 10-year-old boy being tragged towards an opening in the border’s fence by the terrorists.
Erez Kalderon, who was snatched from his home in Nir Oz in the south of Israel by Hamas, looks terrified as he is led through the streets by the heavily armed men.
His father Offer and sister Sahar, 16, were also abducted.
Erez’s sister Gaya Kalderon, 21, who lives in Tel Aviv, told Sky News: ‘Everything I have in my life – my family – is missing. I’m terrified from the photographs and can’t believe my eyes. It feels like a horror movie that would never come true. But it did.’
Video has emerged of a 10-year-old boy being snatched at gunpoint from his home by Hamas terrorists as they launched their attack on Israel over the weekend
Erez Kalderon, who was snatched from his home in Nir Oz in the south of Israel by Hamas, looks terrified as he is led through the streets by the heavily armed men
It comes as Israeli officials have today declared they are seeking a ‘new reality’ that will see Hamas eradicated as the IDF gear up to launch a massive military operation in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declaring war on Hamas following this weekend’s surprise attack which saw 1,000 Israelis slaughtered, gave a solemn vow.
‘What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations,’ he said, and in remarks to U.S. President Joe Biden condemned Hamas for what he said was ‘savagery not seen since the Holocaust.’
Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a total siege of Gaza, cutting off water, food and electricity to force its residents into starvation as they are pounded by constant airstrikes.
Speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence yesterday, Gallant doubled down and said: ‘Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be,’ with even a former Israeli ambassador to Britain declaring that the IDF’s goal is ‘to come out of this with a different reality in Gaza.’
But the swift and brutal retaliation against Hamas has given rise to hundreds of Palestinian civilian casualties with many in the international community questioning whether the Israeli Defence Forces are committing war crimes.
The U.N.’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said: ‘Israel has the right to defend (itself) but it has to be done accordingly with international law, humanitarian law, and some decisions are contrary to international law.
‘Some of the actions – (such) as cutting water, cutting electricity, cutting food to a mass of civilian people is against international law,’ Borrell said on Tuesday.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, Professor Ghassan Abu Sittah, a London-based surgeon who has gone to work at a hospital in Gaza following the strikes, shed light on the harrowing conditions there.
‘There’s such a high percentage of children that are wounded. We have children with major burns, a teenager with 70 per cent total body burns, he said.
And Palestinian envoy to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, condemned Israel’s widespread bombing of civilian centres: ‘Such blatant dehumanisation and attempts to bomb a people into submission, to use starvation as a method of warfare, and to eradicate their national existence are nothing less than genocidal.’
And the war, which has claimed at least 2,100 lives on both sides, is expected to escalate.
Israel appears determined to crush Hamas’ hold on Gaza, following an unprecedented attack in which militants gunned down civilians in their homes, on streets and at a mass outdoor music festival, while dragging men, women and children into captivity.
It emerged yesterday that Hamas terrorists massacred at least 40 babies and young children before beheading some of them and gunning down their families in a small kibbutz in Israel.
Israeli soldiers remove the body of a compatriot, killed during an attack by Hamas terrorists in Kfar Aza, on Tuesday
A baby’s seat and child’s dress is seen covered in blood in the aftermath of a Hamas attack
Gunshots and blood stains are seen on a door and walls of a house where civilians were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza on Tuesday
The onslaught saw around 70 Hamas fighters – yesterday branded ‘animals’ and ‘worse than Isis’ by the Israeli army – armed with machine guns and grenades storm the usually quiet Kfar Aza kibbutz in southern Israel killing men, women and children indiscriminately.
The bullet-riddled bodies of Israeli residents now lay in the grounds of the kibbutz among burned out houses, strewn furniture and torched cars. Solemn Israeli soldiers today went from house to house to take away the scores of people massacred there.
Outside the destroyed homes, the soldiers told i24News correspondent Nicole Zedek how they saw the bodies of babies next to their cots, their heads chopped off, in a sign of the depraved acts committed by the terrorists since they attacked Israel on Saturday.
As many as 40 babies and small children were killed, IDF soldiers told i24News after taking them to the scene of the atrocity. Harrowing images from the scene show a baby’s cot covered with blood, her small bloodied dress lying next to it.
The Israeli soldiers were seen comforting each other after witnessing such horrors, including the bodies of entire families who were gunned down in their beds.
‘You see the babies, the mothers, the fathers, in their bedrooms, in their protection rooms and how the terrorist kills them. It’s not a war, it’s not a battlefield. It’s a massacre, it’s a terror activity,’ said Israeli Major General Itai Veruv from the horrific scene.
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