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Israeli hostage’s family hope kidnap video reminds world of need for deal

In World
May 23, 2024
Naama Levy (family handout)

Naama, 19, was among seven young female conscripts taken hostage by Hamas gunmen who attacked Nahal Oz military base in southern Israel on 7 October [Hostages and Missing Families Forum]

The brother of Israeli hostage Naama Levy has said the family’s decision to release new harrowing video of the moment his sister and other female hostages were kidnapped is to remind the world and world leaders that they need to push for a deal to secure their release.

Nineteen-year-old Naama and six other young women were taken by Hamas gunmen from the Nahal Oz military base on 7 October, where they were serving as observers monitoring surveillance cameras of the nearby Gaza perimeter fence.

In a Hamas video previously seen around the world when she was taken to Gaza, Naama was shown with blood around the crotch of her trousers, with her hands tied and ankles cut.

Now, the families of Naama and four of the other women have decided to release further video footage filmed by the body cameras worn by the Hamas kidnappers. It shows the moment they seized and tied up the teenagers, having killed others at the base.

Warning: This article contains details some readers may find disturbing.

In the three minutes of video, the gunmen can be seen screaming at the women, some still in their pyjamas, most of whom have bloody faces. They are tied up against a wall before being bundled into a jeep with obvious injuries.

The gunmen tell them in Arabic: “You dogs, we will step on you… we will shoot you all.”

One says in English: “You’re beautiful.”

Naama, her face covered in blood, says to them in English: “I have friends in Palestine.” She had previously been part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. Her family have called her “a peace seeker”.

Israeli hostage Naama Levy (L) is seen with her hands bound and facing a wall as Hamas gunmen stand next to her in the newly released video filmed by Hamas gunmen at Nahal Oz base on 7 October (22 May 2024)

Naama Levy (L) is seen with her hands bound and with a bloodied face in the newly released video footage, which was filmed by Hamas gunmen [Hostages and Missing Families Forum]

Naama’s brother, Amit, is on a visit to London to campaign for his sister’s release.

He said the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas to secure a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal were in “a very bad place”.

“We hope that this video will encourage all sides to get back to the table and understand that it’s an unbearable humanitarian issue that needs to be solved,” he told the BBC. “This might be the last chance to save them.”

Amit said that when he saw the video released on Thursday it was a “very hard watch… seeing my little sister with such a… such a look in her eyes”.

“I never imagined I would see her this frightened and hurt,” he added.

But he also said he took strength from the video.

“We feel like she’s handling the situation like the true superhero she is, like a hero fighting for her life.”

Of the seven female observers at Nahal Oz who were kidnapped, one – Noa Marciano – was killed in Gaza. The Israeli military said troops found her body in a building near Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital in November.

Another, Ori Megidish, was rescued by Israeli forces during an operation inside Gaza at the end of October.

Teenagers Liri Elbag, 18, Karina Ariev, 19, Daniela Gilboa, 19, and Agam Berger, 19, are still being held along with Naama. They have been hostages for 229 days.

After seeing the video of Naama with bloodied trousers when she was kidnapped, and hearing the testimonies of other hostages, her family are fearful about the risk of sexual assault.

“It’s very, very hard for us. It’s a fear ever since 7 October that doesn’t leave me, doesn’t leave anyone in the family,” Amit said.

“We realise that there is… there is a chance, maybe even a good chance, that Naama and other girls and men are being harassed. And it’s a fear that is painful in ways that are indescribable. We just have to keep fighting for her to get out of this hell.”

Naama’s mother, Ayalet, said in a statement: “We only see in that video a fraction of the horrible things that are going on in their surrounding in the shelter.

“She is terrified and wounded, there is fear in her eyes, and she is saying what she can, she is begging for her life.

“The top priority is to bring her home, bring them all home now.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum said: “The disturbing video has been the reality of Agam, Daniela, Liri, Naama, Karina, and 123 other hostages for 229 days.

“The video is a damning testament to the nation’s failure to bring home the hostages. The Israeli government must not waste even one more moment and it must return to the negotiating table today.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “shocked” by the footage and promised to do everything to bring the hostages home.

“The brutality of the Hamas terrorists only strengthens my determination to fight with all my strength until the elimination of Hamas, to ensure that what we saw tonight will never happen again,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

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