Israeli intelligence officials have concluded that more than a fifth of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza are dead, news that is sure to increase the domestic anger directed at the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli assessment, which was obtained by The New York Times, said at least 30 out of the 136 Israelis held captive in Gaza have died since the start of the Israeli onslaught. The report did not say how they were killed, but it’s likely they were killed by Israeli forces.
Some freed Israeli hostages have said their primary fear while being held in Gaza was being killed by Israel’s relentless bombing campaign. In December, Israeli troops gunned down three Israeli hostages who were shirtless and waving a white flag in Gaza City.
The mother of an Israeli who died in Gaza has alleged her son was killed by poison gas Israel pumped into the tunnels underneath the Strip, citing a toxicology report. Israeli media has reported that Israel’s military is aware that bombing the tunnels could create toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, which risks killing captive Israelis.
The Times reported last month that four senior Israeli military commanders said they concluded the only way to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages was through diplomacy and that there was no military solution that wouldn’t kill the captives.
Israel and Hamas are currently negotiating a potential hostage deal through Egyptian and Qatari mediators. But it’s unclear if a deal will be reached as Hamas continues to call for a permanent ceasefire, and Israel is vowing the slaughter will continue.