Five hostages discovered deceased in an underground tunnel

In a recent development, the Israeli military has recovered the bodies of five Israeli hostages from an underground tunnel network in the northern Gaza Strip. The military released footage showing a white-tiled bathroom and work room connected by dark concrete-lined passages. The cause of death has not yet been determined, as post-mortems are still pending. The three soldiers and two civilians were among 240 people taken hostage by Hamas gunmen during a cross-border rampage on October 7 that triggered the ongoing conflict. The repatriation of their bodies was announced earlier this month.

Hamas, an Iranian-backed Islamist group, had previously released a video showing three of the hostages alive in what appeared to be a narrow, windowless bedroom with white tiles and an electric wall socket. They claimed that the hostages died as a result of Israel's shelling of Gaza and accused Israel of using military weapons that caused their deaths.

The Israeli military's video showed engineers exploring a dark and dusty tunnel network, which they claimed had two storeys. One of the tunnels led to the home of Ahmad Al Ghandour, the chief of Hamas' North Gaza brigade, who was declared killed in action by Hamas on November 26. Israel, however, stated that he was a target of one of their air strikes.

The military video displayed a section of the tunnel lined with white tiles, along with a bathroom equipped with a shower, toilet, and sink. It also showed a work room with a table and bench. One of the tunnels contained a drinking water dispenser and a pile of bullets. Notably, the military's video did not include images corresponding to the bedroom shown in the Hamas video, which had a different ceiling design but was also tiled in white.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel will intensify its operations in the ongoing conflict, which has raised concerns among Western powers due to the high number of civilian casualties. As of now, 129 hostages remain in captivity. The families of the recovered hostages will be briefed before any information is released to the public.


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