The ruling Palestinian organization in the Gaza Strip, Hamas, has released video footage of an Israeli citizen who has been held captive for seven years, sparking outrage in Israel. Video distributed Tuesday by Hamas’ military arm shows the Israeli Arab lying on a bed wearing an oxygen mask. Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said on Monday that the hostage’s health had deteriorated. The mentally disabled man crossed the border from Israel into the blocked Gaza Strip in 2015.
Efforts to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas have been going on for years. It is about the handing over of the mortal remains of two soldiers from the 2014 Gaza war and the release of the mentally handicapped man and another Israeli prisoner. In return, Hamas is demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office on Tuesday called the video’s release “disgusting and shameful.” Hamas has two mentally handicapped Israeli citizens under its control who are ill and suffering. This violates international law. Hamas is delaying a deal.
Israeli Foreign Minister Jair Lapid said Hamas’ actions proved it was a “vile terrorist organization”. They took the entire people of Gaza hostage. Lapid called on the international community and aid organizations such as the Red Cross to work for the release of Israeli citizens and the repatriation of the bodies.
Around two million people live in the Gaza Strip under very poor conditions. Hamas violently seized power there in 2007. Israel then tightened a blockade of the coastal area, which is supported by Egypt.