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'Women who can get pregnant': Israel releases disturbing video of female soldiers captured by Hamas on Oct 7

The bodycam footage from the attackers showed five female army conscripts who were taken hostage by Hamas militants during the October 7 attack. One of the terrorists describes the hostages as “women who can get pregnant" as some hostages were seen with bloodied faces.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: May 23, 2024 8:44 IST
Israeli hostages, female soldiers, Gaza
Image Source : ISRAEL (X) Israeli female soldiers taken captive by Hamas and taken to the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem: Israeli media released a previously withheld footage on Wednesday showing five pyjama-clad female soldiers who were taken hostage by Hamas militants during the October 7 attack that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in Israel and triggered the devastating war in Gaza. The kin of the captives hoped the footage would increase pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree a truce with Hamas and secure the hostages' release.

The government saw the release of the disturbing three-minute clip to national and international media as an opportunity to shore up support. "These girls are still in the captivity of Hamas. Please don't look away," government spokesperson David Mencer told reporters. "Watch the film. Support Israel in bringing our people home."

The footage captured by body cameras worn by the kidnappers showed five female soldiers tied and lined up against a wall, some of them with bloodied faces before they were bundled into a jeep. These hostages were identified as Liri Albag, Karina Ariev, Agam Berger, Daniela Gilboa and Naama Levy, all of whom are still being held in Gaza. All of the five hostages were abducted from the Nahal Oz by Hamas militants, according to The Times of Israel.

One of the gunmen can be heard shouting back in Arabic: "You are dogs! We will step on you, dogs!" The 19-year-old Naama Levy pleaded in English, "I have friends in Palestine." Another gunman tells a captive: "You're beautiful." One of the terrorists describes the hostages as “women who can get pregnant.”

Hamas accuses Israel of 'manipulation'

The families of the hostages described the video as a “damning testament to the nation’s failure to bring home the hostages.” In a statement after the release of the video, President Isaac Herzog said he would continue to offer the families of hostages "strength and love" and urged everyone who believes in women's rights and freedom to speak out against the "cruel atrocity".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “horrified” by the footage and vowed to do all he could to return the hostages home. “The cruelty of the Hamas terrorists only strengthens my determination to fight with all my might until Hamas is eliminated in order to ensure that what we saw this evening doesn’t happen ever again,” he wrote on X.

However, Hamas said later on Wednesday that the video was "manipulated and the authenticity of what it contained cannot be confirmed" and said the clip was part of Israel's promotion of "fabricated narratives". The group said, "The female soldiers were treated according to the ethics of our resistance and no mistreatment of those soldiers in this unit was proven."

The Hostages Families Forum, which represents relatives of the 124 people - mostly civilians - still held by Hamas, said the footage was recovered from bodycams worn by gunmen who attacked the Nahal Oz base in southern Israel where the women served as surveillance spotters. Shots of slain Israeli soldiers were excluded and publication was approved by the families of the five captives, the forum said.

Pressure on Netanyahu

Netanyahu is under mounting pressure from his own War Cabinet and his country’s closest ally over postwar plans for the war-torn nation, even as the war with Hamas shows no sign of ending. Israeli media have reported growing discontent within the country’s security establishment over the course of the war, with officials warning that the lack of any such planning was turning tactical victories into strategic defeat.

Polls indicate Netanyahu would be driven from office if new elections were held, with Gantz most likely to replace him. That would probably mark the end of Netanyahu’s long political career and expose him to prosecution over longstanding corruption charges. Critics of Netanyahu, including thousands who have joined weekly protests in recent months, accuse him of prolonging the war for his own political survival.

Netanyahu's government says continued military pressure will force Hamas to yield. Hostage families fear their loved ones will not survive and that the women captives may be raped, although Hamas has denied allegations of sexual abuse by its men.

Israel says 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 abducted in the Oct. 7 attack led by Hamas. Israel responded by launching an offensive to eliminate the Islamist militant group in which Gaza health authorities say more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed. Israel's military says 286 Israeli soldiers have also been killed.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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