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Israel confirms deaths of 4 more hostages, including 3 older men seen in Hamas video

Israel confirms deaths of 4 more hostages
Israel confirms deaths of 4 more hostages amid pressure to reach cease-fire deal 02:01

The Israeli military on Monday confirmed the deaths of four more hostages held by Hamas — including three older men seen in a Hamas video begging for their release.

The three men, Amiram Cooper, Yoram Metzger and Haim Peri, were all age 80 or older. Looking weak and wary, they appeared in a video in December released by Hamas under the title, "Don't let us grow old here."

The fourth hostage was identified as Nadav Popplewell.

Israel's military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the four men died together in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis when Israel was operating there. The cause of death was not immediately known.

"We are checking all of the options," Hagari said. "There are a lot of questions."

According to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which represents families of the Israeli abductees, Cooper was 84, Metzger and Peri were 80 and Popplewell was 51. 

Israeli Cabinet Members At Odds Over Proposed Ceasefire Deal
Families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip protest outside a party meeting at the Israeli parliament on June 3, 2024, in Jerusalem.  Amir Levy / Getty Images

The confirmation of their deaths came less than two weeks after Hagari issued a statement on social media announcing that the bodies of three hostages killed on October 7 — Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum and Orion Hernandez Radoux — had been recovered and their families notified. They are believed to have been killed on October 7 at the Mefalsim intersection and their bodies taken into Gaza. 

Israel carried out a major offensive in Khan Younis, a Hamas stronghold, early this year.

Hamas claimed in May that Popplewell had died after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike, but provided no evidence.

Cooper, Metzger and Peri were featured in a Hamas propaganda video in which Peri, clearly under duress, said in the video that all three men had chronic illnesses and accused Israel of abandoning them.

The deaths added to the growing list of hostages who Israel says have died in captivity. On Oct. 7, Hamas took some 250 hostages back to Gaza. Roughly half were released during a brief ceasefire period in November. Of some 130 remaining in the strip, about 85 are believed to still be alive. 

The families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas called over the weekend for all parties to immediately accept the three-phase deal outlined by President Biden Friday to end the nearly 8-month-long war and bring their relatives home.

In a statement on Saturday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza as a "nonstarter" until long-standing conditions for ending the war are met, appearing to undermine the deal Biden had announced as an Israeli one.

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