Israeli hostages’ families release footage of female soldiers captured on 7 October

An Israeli group representing the families of hostages held in Gaza has released footage showing the capture of five female Israeli soldiers from a military base during the 7 October Hamas attacks.

The three-minute video shows the women sitting on the ground, some bruised and bloodied, with their hands tied, after their capture from the Nahal Oz base in southern Israel.

The footage, taken from a two-hour video filmed on body cameras by Hamas militants during the attack, was previously released by Hamas. The Hostages and Missing Families Forum obtained it months ago from the Israel Defense Forces, which had previously edited it to exclude the most disturbing scenes.

The forum said the families made the footage public in an attempt to pressure the government into reaching a ceasefire deal with Hamas that would free their loved ones.

“The footage reveals the violent, humiliating and traumatising treatment the girls endured on the day of their abduction, their eyes filled with raw terror,” the group said in statement. “Every new testimony about what happened to the hostages echoes the same tragic truth – we must bring them all back home, now. The Israeli government must not waste another moment.”

Seven female soldiers who worked as lookouts on the border with Gaza were taken captive from Nahal Oz. All were aged 19 or 20. The army rescued one of the women early in the war in a ground operation, and said a second was killed in Hamas captivity. The five women in the video are believed to still be held by Hamas.

“This video is a message to the international community, in a time where we are seeing US president Joe Biden threatening he is not going to supply weapons to Israel, we are seeing three European countries recognising the Palestinian state,” Ashley Waxman Bakshi, a cousin of Agam Berger, one of the women in the video, told the Guardian.

“All of this is happening while our hostages are still in Gaza. That is sending a message to Hamas that they have no reason to negotiate a deal for their release. Why should they? … The international community has focused only on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Nobody is talking about our humanitarian crisis, our hostages. Release the hostages and the situation will improve.”

In the video, the women try to converse with the militants. One says in English: “I have friends in Palestine.” A militant yells back in English for them to be quiet.

At another point a man describes the women as sabaya, a term used by jihadists that means enslaved.

Thousands of Israelis have joined protests in recent weeks calling for a deal to bring home hostages, early elections and the immediate resignation of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

“This hostage crisis is not only a failure of the Israeli government, it is also a failure of the international community,’’ said Waxman Bakshi.

In a statement, Hamas called the video “a manipulated excerpt” the authenticity of which “cannot be verified”. The group said the minor injuries and blood on the soldiers “is to be expected in such operations” but denied physically assaulting the women.

The war was triggered by Hamas’s attack in Israel in which 1,200 died, mainly civilians, and about 250 were taken hostage.

As a result of Israel’s retaliatory offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, at least 35,386 Palestinians have been killed and 79,366 have been wounded, the Gaza health ministry said on Saturday.

About half of the approximately 250 people abducted on 7 October have since been freed, most in swaps for Israeli-held Palestinian prisoners during a week-long ceasefire in November. According to Israeli authorities, about 30 are confirmed to have died.

Last Saturday, the forum released a statement saying one hostage, Ron Benjamin, had died, and 128 remained in captivity.

The Israeli military said it had retrieved from Gaza the bodies of three hostages kidnapped by Hamas, including the German-Israeli Shani Louk.

The other two hostages were identified as Amit Buskila, 28, and Itzhak Gelerenter, 56, according to the military spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari, who said the three victims were taken to Gaza after being killed by Hamas at the Nova music festival.

Footage of what appeared to be the body of Louk, 22, on the back of a pickup truck on the streets of Gaza was among the first images to surface after 7 October, as the scale of the attacks became clear.

Associated Press contributed to this report