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Israel to restart Gaza talks after hostage video sparks outrage

Israel said it would revive stalled cease-fire talks with Hamas after social media video showing female Israeli soldiers being abducted by the terrorists on Oct. 7 sparked a public outcry.

The video released by a group representing the families of hostages shows several of the young soldiers bloody and wounded. In one scene, a terrorist tells one of the terrified women she is beautiful.

The footage was taken by Hamas terrorists who stormed the Nahal Oz military base, part of the terrorist group’s wider assault on southern Israel that killed roughly 1,200 people and took about 250 others hostage.

Seven female soldiers who worked as lookouts on the border with Gaza were taken captive from Nahal Oz, said the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which released the footage. All were 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.

The Israeli army recently declassified the video and turned it over to the women’s families. The forum said the families made the footage public in an attempt to pressure the government into reaching a cease-fire deal with Hamas that would free their loved ones.

“Every new testimony about what happened to the hostages echoes the same tragic truth — we must bring them all back home, now,” the forum said in a statement.

The footage released Wednesday is roughly three minutes and edited, with some images blurred to censor what the forum said is especially sensitive material.

It shows a group of more than a dozen armed terrorists binding the soldiers, two of whom had visible bloodstains on their faces.

In the video, the women try to converse with the terrorists. One says in English, “I have friends in Palestine.”

One terrorist yells back in English for them to be quiet. In other scenes, terrorists kneel to pray in front of at least four of the female soldiers, who are handcuffed and seated on the ground. One bears visible cuts on her legs, and her blood pools onto the ground beneath her as a terrorist binds her hands behind her back.

At least one of the soldiers appears to be in her pajamas, with blood visible on her face. One of the terrorists points at her and, in English, says, “You are beautiful.”

In a statement, Hamas said the video showed “deliberate distortions” and dismissed the women’s injuries as “something to be expected.” The statement didn’t address the talks.

Israel’s offensive on Gaza, launched in response to the Hamas terrorist attack, has killed about 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Ashley Waxman Bakshi, a cousin of Agam Berger, one of the women in the video, said that she cried the first time she saw it.

“Toward the end, I felt like I was going to throw up. I think any person who watches this video will understand that feeling, especially as a woman,” she said.

Other footage shows the terrorists dragging two of the female soldiers toward a jeep as gunfire rattles. One is led to the vehicle barefoot, hopping on one foot because of an apparent leg injury.

In another scene, a group of terrorists holds a hostage by their hands and feet. It is not clear whether the hostage is alive or dead. Another scene shows three of the female soldiers in the back of a moving vehicle, faces bloodied as terrorists yell around them. Berger, who is wearing a brown shirt, is one of them.

“We know she’s alive. We can feel it. She has a twin sister, she feels her,” Bakshi said of her cousin. “She was taken hostage not severely injured. You can see from the video.”

More than 100 Israeli hostages are still being held in Gaza by Hamas, although it’s unclear how many are still alive. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

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