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This video grab from footage released by the Israeli Hostage and Missing Families Forum campaign group on May 22, 2024, shows what the group described as Israeli female soldiers being captured by Palestinian Hamas militants during the October 7, 2023 attack on Israel. Image Credit: AFP

Jerusalem: Israel said it would revive stalled ceasefire talks with Hamas after social media video showing female Israeli soldiers being abducted by the militants on Octobr 7 sparked a public outcry.

The 190-second clip, compiled from footage filmed by the militants on the day of the attack, shows five young women in civilian clothes, some bruised and bloodied, lined up against a wall before being pushed into a jeep.

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The women, who Israel confirmed are military personnel, were kidnapped when Hamas invaded Israel and killed 1,200 people. The attack triggered an Israeli military response that’s destroyed much of Gaza and killed more than 35,000 Palestinians.

More than 100 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza by Hamas, although it’s unclear how many are still alive. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

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The captives’ families hoped the footage would increase pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree a truce with Hamas and secure the hostages’ release.

The Netanyahu government saw the release of the subtitled three-minute clip to national and international media as an opportunity to shore up support. Hamas defended its fighters’ conduct and called the video a bid to manipulate public opinion.

“These girls are still in the captivity of Hamas. Please don’t look away,” Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer told reporters.

“Watch the film. Support Israel in bringing our people home.” The footage shows the young women, all of them stunned and some bloodied, being bound and bundled into a jeep.

Image Credit: AFP

“I have friends in Palestine,” one of the conscripts, 19-year-old Naama Levy, pleads in English.

One of the gunmen can be heard shouting back in Arabic: “You are dogs! We will step on you, dogs!” Another gunman tells a captive: “You’re beautiful.”

The Hostages Families Forum, which represents relatives of the 124 people — mostly civilians — still held by Hamas, said in a statement that 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, adding: “The Israeli government must not waste another moment; it must return to the negotiating table today!”

Military pressure

Within hours, Netanyahu’s security cabinet convened and authorised an effort to renew the talks, which had stumbled over Hamas’ demand that Israel end the Gaza war in exchange for all the hostages, an Israeli official said.

It was not immediately clear when or on what terms new negotiations might take place.

Image Credit: AFP

Israel says 1,200 people were killed and more than 250 abducted in the October 7 attack led by Hamas. Israel responded by launching an offensive to eliminate the Iranian-backed Islamist 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.

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 could be raped.

“So please, please do whatever you can to, to bring them home,” Orly Gilboa, whose daughter Daniela is a hostage, told Reuters. “They suffer there every minute, every second. And every minute is important.” Hamas has denied allegations of sexual abuse by its men, and said the video was meant to advance “fabricated narratives”.

“The female soldiers were treated according to the ethics of our resistance and no mistreatment of those soldiers in this unit was proven,” it said in a statement.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the ambassadors of Ireland, Norway and Spain, whom it summoned to protest at their governments’ preparations to recognise a Palestinian state, would be shown the video in a special screening on Thursday.

Last week, Qatar said the negotiations had reached an impasse after Israel invaded the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians had sought refuge before being forced to flee again.

The two sides are also at odds over the deployment of Israeli troops in Gaza and the terms of the release of the remaining hostages. Qatar is mediating the talks alongside Egypt and the US.