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An SMS message from Hamas: Israeli man reveals fate of kidnapped relatives

Israeli Gil Dickmann whose family members were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas on 7 October.
Israeli Gil Dickmann whose family members were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas on 7 October. Copyright Bernat Armangue/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Bernat Armangue/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Kristina HarazimShona Murray with Reuters
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Israeli national Gil Dickmann is leading a group whose family members are being held hostage by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The group is demanding the UN secures their release. He explained to Euronews correspondent, Shona Murray, how he learned the fate of his murdered aunt.

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It has been more than five weeks since Hamas militants carried out a brutal attack on Israel.

It triggered a bloody conflict that has resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis and more than 11,300 Palestinians.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) estimates Hamas kidnapped around 240 people - including foreign nationals, babies and children - on 7 October and is holding them in Gaza.

Flares rise over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.
Flares rise over the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.Leo Correa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

The militant group has since freed four people including Yocheved Lifshitz and Nurit Cooper; the IDF rescued a fifth hostage, Israeli soldier Ori Megidish.

Gil Dickmann, who is leading a campaign to get the others released, is related to three of the victims from Be'eri kibbutz in southern Israel.

Last week, he received a text message from a number said to be linked to the Qassam brigades, the military arm of Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip.

''The text is saying 'family'. This is a message from El-Qassam - one of the units of Hamas. Carmel Gat - the name of my cousin. We offered your government a deal: Release all the Zionist hostages for all the Palestinian hostages. If you want to know the situation of all your hostages, just stay in touch and click the link,'' he explained.

Gil did not open the link for fear his mobile phone would be hacked.

He does not know the fate of his 39-year-old cousin, Carmel Gat, nor her sister-in-law, 35-year-old Yarden Roman Gat, who were kidnapped; he does however know that his aunt was killed.

''I scrolled through videos on Telegram when I saw the video,'' he said. ''She was handcuffed. They were walking her down the streets of the kibbutz, and in another video I saw her face to the ground, murdered. I still can't believe it now today.''

Gil said it was a long time before the IDF arrived at the scene.

Families of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 and their supporters march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Ramle, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.
Families of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 and their supporters march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Ramle, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.Maya Alleruzzo/Copyright 2023 The AP All rights reserved

''We still don't know why. We don't know what happened. And we kind of lost faith in all the world.''

Israel has since evacuated civilians from towns and villages close to the Strip.

Qatari mediators are said to be seeking to negotiate a deal between Hamas and Israel that included the release of around 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire.

According to Reuters, Hamas has agreed to the general outlines of the deal, but Israel has not and is still negotiating the details.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the military response to the Hamas attack.

''There is no place in Gaza that we cannot reach. We will get there, defeat Hamas and bring home our hostages - these are our two holy missions,'' he said.

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