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Israeli hostages group publishes new October 7 video, as anger boils over Netanyahu interview


By Christian Edwards, CNN

(CNN) — The group representing Israel’s hostages and their families has released a video showing the kidnapping of three Israelis by Hamas on October 7, shortly after the group condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s suggestion that Israel could strike a “partial deal” with the militant group to free some, but not all, of the hostages.

The video, released Monday evening by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, shows Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Or Levy and Eliya Cohen in the back of a pickup truck, being driven along a tree-lined road in southern Israel by militants wielding assault weapons. “Here are the dogs, here they are,” one of the gunmen can be heard saying.

Goldberg-Polin, an American-Israeli citizen then aged 23, can be seen with his face bloodied and what appears to be bone protruding from his left arm – blown off after a grenade was tossed into the bunker in which he and several others had been hiding from Hamas gunmen.

Hamas released a video of Goldberg-Polin in April, the first proof that he survived the blast. In the video, he criticized Netanyahu’s government, as other Israeli hostages in Hamas propaganda videos have done. Held in Gaza for six months at the time, he was almost certainly speaking under duress.

The video was released a day after Netanyahu, in his first one-on-one interview with local Israeli media since October 7, said he was ready to make “a partial deal” with Hamas to return some hostages still being held captive in Gaza – an apparent softening of one of Israel’s war aims that drew a sharp rebuke from the hostages’ Forum, which has become a potent political force in Israel.

Netanyahu’s comments to Israel’s Channel 14 were at odds with the aims of a broader Israeli ceasefire proposal outlined by US President Joe Biden last month, which sets out conditions intended to release all remaining hostages, in return for a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces.

“This harrowing footage stands as a damning testament to the 262-day-long abandonment of our loved ones. Hersh, Eliya, and Or were taken alive, and they must return alive, today. Every day that passes puts the hostages at greater risk and diminishes our chances of bringing them back safely,” the Forum said in a statement, calling for a deal that brings all of the hostages home.

Earlier, the Forum had said – in an apparent swipe at Netanyahu – that “the end of the fighting in the Gaza Strip, without the release of the hostages, is an unprecedented national failure and a failure to meet the goals of the war.”

Israeli opposition figure Gadi Eisenkot – who resigned from Israel’s war cabinet a week before Netanyahu disbanded it – also slammed Netanyahu’s comments, saying “there are soldiers who are fighting now because they have war goals to return the hostages.”

In a short statement issued after his interview Sunday, Netanyahu’s office sought to clarify his comments, saying he “has made it clear that we will not leave Gaza until we return all 120 of our hostages, living and deceased.”

Seeking to row back his explosive comments even further, Netanyahu on Monday told the Knesset: “We are committed to the Israeli proposal that President Biden welcomed. Our position has not changed.”

The release of the video may be intended to refocus minds in Israel’s security cabinet, reminding Netanyahu and other senior officials of the war’s initial aim to return the hostages, many of whom remain in Gaza nearly nine months after their abduction.

It came as the number of hostages believed to be dead rose to 42 with the announcement by the Israeli military that one of its soldiers, Sergeant Major Mhamad El Atrash, 39, was killed on October 7 and that his body is being held by Hamas. Previously, on June 8, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it believes that at least 41 hostages from the October 7 attack are dead, with their bodies being held in the Gaza Strip.

At least five American hostages are believed to be held alive and four others believed to be dead.

Goldberg-Polin, Levy and Cohen were kidnapped from the Nova music festival during Hamas’ murderous rampage, when its militants killed around 1,200 people and took some 250 others hostage.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Hersh’s mother, was later told by eyewitnesses that as many as 29 people had huddled together in a shelter outside the festival before Hamas began to throw grenades inside. Eight people survived by hiding under the bodies of the dead, while Goldberg-Polin was one of several hostages taken. A firsthand account from a young woman in the bunker said Goldberg-Polin had helped to throw some of the grenades out, before his left arm was blown off from the elbow down.

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