Militant group releases 2 videos of an Amazon cloud engineer held hostage in Gaza since October 7

  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad released videos of the hostage Alexander Troufanov.

  • Troufanov, an Amazon cloud engineer, was abducted by Hamas on October 7.

  • Around 240 people were taken hostage in the terror attacks, many still captive months later.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad released two videos this week showing Russian-Israeli hostage Alexander Troufanov, an Amazon cloud engineer.

The videos prompted Troufanov's family to call on Israeli officials to do more to secure his release.

PIJ, a militant group that operates in Gaza alongside Hamas, released the first video on Tuesday.

In the short clip, Troufanov speaks calmly and in Hebrew.

He said: "In the next few days, you will hear the truth of what happened to me, as well as the other prisoners in Gaza," per a translation by The Jerusalem Post.

"Wait patiently," he said.

The context in which he is speaking was not clear. Hostages are rarely able to speak freely in such videos.

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum, an advocacy group for the hostages, released a statement on X in response to the video, saying: "The Trufanov family has authorized the use and publication of the video released today by the Islamic Jihad, after 235 days in captivity, showing Alexsander Trufanov."

(The statement used a variant spelling of Troufanov's name.)

It argued that the apparent evidence that he is alive should prompt the Israeli government to do more to strike a deal for the return of the hostages in Gaza.

Troufanov was kidnapped from Nir Oz kibbutz alongside his grandmother Irena Tati, his mother Yelena, and his girlfriend Sapir Cohen during Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel, The Times of Israel reported in December.

His mother, grandmother, and girlfriend were released in November, the Israeli outlet Haaretz reported.

Troufanov's father was killed in the attacks, the report added.

The first video showing Troufanov did not provide any indication of when it had been filmed.

In a second video, released by PIJ on Thursday, Troufanov appears to refer to the Israeli government shutting down the Al Jazeera news channel's operations in the country on May 5, per The Times of Israel, suggesting that the footage was taken after that date.

Troufanov worked as an engineer at Annapurna Labs, a subsidiary of Amazon, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The Israeli chipmaker was acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2015 in a deal that reports suggested was worth up to $370 million.

Russia's TASS news agency reported that the country's Chief Rabbi, Berl Lazar, said in February that Russian President Vladimir Putin was aware of Troufanov's situation and was working to help free the hostages in Gaza.

Putin "has all the information about the hostages who have Russian citizenship. There are three of them, and Alexander Trufanov is only one of them," the rabbi said, per Tass.

It comes as President Joe Biden unveiled a new Israeli proposal to end the conflict in Gaza.

The three-stage proposal offers a "roadmap to an enduring ceasefire – and the release of all the hostages," a post on the president's X account reads.

The plan, which was delivered to Hamas by Qatar, would begin with a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas of the Gaza Strip.

It would also include an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages, a "surge" of humanitarian aid, and a reconstruction plan for Gaza.

Hamas has said that it viewed the proposal "positively."

More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict so far, according to figures from Gaza's healthy ministry. Around 1,200 people were killed in Israel during Hamas' October 7 attacks, with roughly another 240 taken hostage in Gaza.

PIJ is the second-largest armed group in Gaza after Hamas

Members of Al-Quds Brigades, an armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, keep guard at tunnels on Gaza-Israeli border against a possible attack by Israeli forces in Gaza City, Gaza on March 30, 2023.
Members of Al-Quds Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.Photo by Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

According to the US Director of National Intelligence, PIJ is a "Sunni Islamist militant group seeking to establish an Islamist Palestinian state."

The group's military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, has been involved in multiple attacks on Israel since the 1990s — mostly small-arms, mortar, and rocket attacks launched from Gaza, per the DNI.

While PIJ has frequently worked with Hamas, the two groups remain rivals, with ideological differences and occasional disagreements over their strategies toward Israel.

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