Israeli forces release Hamas video of former child hostage

The Israeli military has released a Hamas propaganda video it said it recovered showing a child who was held hostage by Hamas, spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on Sunday.

Hagari did not say when or where Israel Defense Forces (IDF) recovered the video, which shows the since-freed child, Ela Elyakim, speaking to the camera asking to be released.

The IDF also released a photo showing Ela with her sister Dafna Elyakim by her side in front of a flag with the Hamas logo.

The sisters were kidnapped from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz during Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and were released on November 26 as part of the temporary truce.

The family of the sisters approved the IDF publishing the video, Hagari said. CNN has decided not to air the video but to show the still image of the two sisters.

“Ela’s family asked us to share it with the world to expose Hamas’s terror, to expose Hamas’s cruelty, to expose Hamas’s barbarism,” Hagari said, “Please help us respect the wishes of Ela’s family by sharing this video far and wide.”

In the video, Ela says in Hebrew: “My name is Ela Elyakim, daughter of Noam and I am eight years old, and I am asking to release us and I am a hostage of Hamas”

“Eight-year-old Ela Elyakim told us that Hamas terrorists forced her to read from a script, forced her to change her clothes, and forced her to re-film this terrifying scene over and over and over again,” Hagari said.

The IDF released an image showing sisters Ela and Dafna Elyakim, who were previously held hostage by Hamas, in front of a flag with the Hamas logo. - IDF
The IDF released an image showing sisters Ela and Dafna Elyakim, who were previously held hostage by Hamas, in front of a flag with the Hamas logo. - IDF

Around 250 people were taken hostage during Hamas’ surprise October 7 attack on southern Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli officials.

In the seven months since that time, Israel has launched a war in Gaza that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

More than 100 hostages were freed during a release deal in November, but the IDF believes there are still 132 hostages in Gaza, 128 of whom were taken on October 7. Of those 132 hostages, 40 are believed to be dead, including two who were taken in 2014, the IDF believes.

The video’s release comes as political divisions are deepening in Israel over the trajectory and priorities of the war, which has sparked a humanitarian crisis that deepens by the day.

War cabinet member and former Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz on Saturday threatened to withdraw his party from the coalition government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t change tact.

Gantz demanded that the cabinet adopt a plan to secure the return of Israeli hostages, the demobilization of Hamas and the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip by June 8. Netanyahu’s office criticized Gantz’s conditions – bringing fissures in the government into the spotlight.

The Israeli military announced Saturday that it had recovered the body of a hostage from the Gaza Strip, one day after saying it had retrieved the remains of three others in the besieged territory who were killed while escaping the Nova music festival on October 7.

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