Terrorists groups who reigned war on Israel war over the weekend have said they are holding at least 130 individuals hostage.
Hamas senior representative Moussa Abu Marzouk claims that the terrorist group is currently holding 1o0 Israeli hostages in Gaza, including high-ranking Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officials, according to the Arabic language news outlet al-Ghad. This is in addition to 30 Israelis held hostage by Islamic Jihad, a smaller terror organization that has also claimed responsibility for the attack on Israel.
According to the reports, Ziyad al-Nakhalah a representative of Islamic Jihad, threatened that those abducted will only be released in exchange for the release of certain individuals imprisoned by Israel, likely for acts of terrorism against the Jewish state.
In their violent assault on southern Israel, the groups of Islamist terrorists forcibly took dozens of captives, including women, children, and the elderly, back into Gaza. The exact number kidnapped remains uncertain beyond both terrorist groups’ claims.
IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a live briefing from Tel Aviv on Sunday night that Israel suspects there are a very large number of Israeli civilians and soldiers being held inside Gaza. He said that the number will be revealed officially in the coming days as authorities work to account for the whereabouts of all Israelis.
He described the weekend attacks as the “bloodiest, the biggest, and most gruesome” in Israel’s history, saying an equivalent in American history “could be a 9/11 and a Pearl Harbour wrapped into one.”
“Almost 48 hours into the fighting … the situation in Israel is a dire one,” he said.
He added that IDF troops are still fighting remaining terrorists, although hundreds have been killed, and hunting down those who still remain inside Israeli territory.
“That is something that will take a few more hours or maybe even more than that,” he said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday night that Biden administration officials have confirmed four American deaths from the terrorist attacks.
“Sadly, we know the toll will rise,” he said.
Fight for ‘Detainees’
Earlier, another senior Hamas representative Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera in an interview the attack was an “open battle” to “liberate the Palestinian people” and their sacred sites. Mr. al-Arouri added that some of the Palestinians being held in Israeli jails are “senior officers” of Hamas.
“We managed to kill and capture many Israeli soldiers. The fighting is still on,” he said.
In 2021, Israeli forces had captured Palestinian Islamic terrorists, who have either been convicted or are facing trial for allegedly planning or carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis. Some of them have even attempted to escape from a high-security Israeli prison by digging a hole in their cell floor.
One of the men captured was Zakaria Zubeidi, a high-profile former commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group in the West Bank city of Jenin. Mr. Zubeidi, who once received Israeli amnesty, was rearrested by Israel again in 2019 after his alleged involvement in further shootings. The other five prisoners are members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
Mr. al-Arouri also said that Hamas’s goal in this attack is to liberate “our land, our holy sites, our Al-Aqsa, and our prisoners,” and that it was in retaliation to alleged “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa compound by Jewish worshipers on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount during the Sukkot holiday.
This recent statement echoes a longstanding Palestinian assertion dating back almost a century. It claims that Zionists and Israel are allegedly conspiring to demolish the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, there is scarcity of resources that corroborate the claim.
Mr. Al-Arouri, who is based in Lebanon, is regarded as the leader of Hamas in the West Bank. He reportedly conveyed his “hope and trust” that Palestinians residing outside of Gaza would join the struggle, particularly terrorist groups in the West Bank, with the aim of defending Al-Aqsa.
At Least 700 Israelis Killed
The number of captives is in addition to at least 700 Israeli deaths from the terrorist attacks, and 2,100 injured. The total figure is expected to be higher as the situation is ongoing, with volunteers, medical, and rescue teams are working around the clock in affected areas.
On Sunday, IDF spokesperson RAdm. Daniel Hagari accused Hamas or war crimes.
“Taking women and children captive violates international law and goes against Islam. Whoever took part will pay the price,” he said.
In Gaza, Palestinian authorities reported 493 deaths and 2,300 wounded.
Meanwhile, the U.N.’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, said, “Over 123,538 people have been internally displaced in Gaza, mostly due to fear, protection concerns, and the destruction of their homes.”
Palestinians in Gaza were urged by Israel on Saturday to leave Hamas-controlled locations, in advanced warning of the planned air strikes on known Hamas targets.
From The Epoch Times