May 18, 2024

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Keith Siegel and Omri Miran: Video shows American and Israeli hostages alive in Gaza

Keith Siegel and Omri Miran: Video shows American and Israeli hostages alive in Gaza

  • Written by Anna Foster
  • BBC News, Jerusalem

Image source, Hostage video

Comment on the photo, Keith Siegel, 64, appears in the new footage

Hamas released a video showing the first evidence of the lives of two more hostages being held in Gaza.

In undated footage filmed under duress, Omri Miran says he has been detained for 202 days, and Keith Siegel mentions Easter weekend this week, suggesting the clips were filmed recently.

They were captured when Hamas launched its deadly attacks on October 7.

In response to the video, their families said they would continue to fight for the men's return.

They also urged the Israeli government to reach a new agreement to release the hostages.

The new video comes at a time when Hamas said it was studying the latest Israeli proposal regarding a truce. Media reports stated that the Egyptian mediator sent a delegation to Israel to give new impetus to the stalled negotiations.

Siegel, a US citizen, was kidnapped along with his wife Aviva, although she was released in November during a brief truce.

“Keith, I love you. We will fight until you come back,” Keith's wife, Aviva, said in a video statement. Earlier this month, she told the BBC how their kidnappers left the couple in a tunnel while transporting them from one place to another. At the time of the interview, she said she did not know if Keith was still alive.

His other daughter, Cher, said: “If you watch the video, you see that my father knows that we all come to the march every week and fight for him and for all the prisoners.”

Comment on the photo, The demonstrators in Hostage Square were joined by crowds demanding early elections in Israel

Speaking at the weekly demonstration in Tel Aviv demanding action to release the hostages on Saturday evening, Danny Miran, Omri Miran's father, led the crowd's chants.

He was visibly emotional as he gave a powerful speech, describing his happiness at watching the video of his son, knowing that he was “hopefully alive.”

But his speech also had a political element. He spoke directly to the government and specifically mentioned by name its far-right members – the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, and the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, and called on them to secure the hostage deal.

He urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “agree to any viable agreement.”

“Take one small, bloodless step for the sake of both peoples,” he said, adding that “all the people of Israel and the countries of the world want to see an end to the bloodshed, especially an end to the suffering of your people.”

What was also notable was that before Omri's father gave his speech, the entire hostage video was shown on large screens around the hostage square.

This is highly unusual, as these videos generally do not play on TV.

Video explanation, WATCH: Aviva Siegel, center, said the family will continue to fight for her husband's safe return

The headquarters of the Hostage Families Forum said that the latest video is “the clearest evidence that the Israeli government must do everything to agree to a deal for the return of all hostages.”

It follows another proof-of-life video released by the group earlier this week, featuring Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg Bolin, 23, who appeared without his left arm in the short clip. The bomb exploded during a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7.

In response, his mother and father also appealed for more efforts to secure a new deal to release the hostages.

The Siegel family was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Azza on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israeli communities near Gaza, while Mr. Miran was captured from Kibbutz Nir Oz.

In a video clip published by the armed wing of Hamas under duress, Siegel, 64, and Miran, 46, urged the Israeli government to agree with Hamas on a ceasefire and release the hostages.

Miran is heard saying: “I have been here in Hamas captivity for 202 days. The situation here is unpleasant and difficult and there are many bombs.”

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas to secure their release – along with the other remaining hostages – are continuing, with weeks of talks failing to reach an agreement.

Hamas rejected a previous proposal for a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the release of the remaining 40 hostages.

The movement had previously insisted that any agreement must include a permanent cessation of war, a complete Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza, and the unrestricted return of displaced persons to their homes. Israel insists on the need to destroy Hamas in Gaza and free the hostages.

Israel appears to be moving ahead with plans to launch an attack on Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, despite warnings of potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences for the 1.5 million displaced Palestinians taking refuge there.

“We are making all preparations for the operation [in Rafah] “This is what must be done,” Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday.

“But I hope there will be an agreement.”

Hamas attacks resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people and the group took about 250 hostages. The Hamas-run Health Ministry there says the Israeli retaliatory campaign in Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians.

The agreement reached in November saw Hamas release 105 hostages – most of them women and children – in exchange for a week-long ceasefire and about 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. It is believed that about 133 hostages remain in Gaza, and about 30 of them are believed to be dead.