Israel Says 4 More Hostages Are Dead, Killed Months Ago in Gaza

The Israeli military said on Monday that four more hostages who were abducted in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks had died months ago in Gaza, a disclosure that was likely to add pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to move forward with a cease-fire deal.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli military, said at a news briefing on Monday that the four hostages were believed to have been killed together “several months ago” near Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, while Israeli forces were operating in the area. The military identified the men as Haim Perry, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper and Nadav Popplewell.

Admiral Hagari said the decision to announce the hostages’ deaths on Monday was based on “additional intelligence, which had been verified recently, making it possible to determine today that the four are no longer alive,” adding that he knew “difficult questions” would arise about the circumstances of their deaths. The families of the four had been notified that their bodies were being held by Hamas, and the circumstances of their deaths were “still under examination,” the Israeli military said.

The Hostages Families Forum, a support group, released a statement demanding that the Israeli government immediately negotiate a deal for the remaining hostages to be freed. It said the four who were declared dead on Monday were alive when they were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nirim and Kibbutz Nir Oz, and that there had been “signs of life” in the interim period.

“Their murder in captivity is a mark of disgrace and a sad reflection on the significance of delaying previous deals,” the group said.

The pressure on Mr. Netanyahu to end the fighting in Gaza has grown since last week, when President Biden publicly endorsed what he said was a three-phase cease-fire proposal put forward by Israel. But Mr. Netanyahu’s far-right political allies have threatened to collapse his government if Israel makes any agreement that ends the war without eliminating Hamas.

On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that President Biden had not presented the “whole picture” when he described the proposed cease-fire, according to a person who attended the meeting and requested anonymity to discuss the private deliberations. But the Israeli leader expressed openness to a 42-day pause in the fighting, the person said, embracing at least part of the first phase of the cease-fire plan.

A spokesman for Hamas’s military wing, Abu Ubaida, had said on March 1 that three of the men now declared dead — Mr. Cooper, Mr. Metzger and Mr. Perry — were among seven hostages who had been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

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