Hamas releases video of 2 hostages as Blinken set to travel to region

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Hamas on Saturday released a video of two hostages it is holding in Gaza, including one who is a dual U.S. citizen, as the group said it was reviewing a new Israeli proposal to halt the fighting and bring some of the captives home.

The video, which lasts just over three minutes, shows U.S.-born Keith Siegel, 64, and Omri Miran, 47, from a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip border. The families of the two men confirmed their identities in a statement released by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a volunteer advocacy group.

“The proof of life from Keith Siegel and Omri Miran is the clearest evidence that the Israeli government must do everything to approve a deal for the return of all the hostages before Independence Day,” which is on May 14, the statement said.

The men were kidnapped by Hamas-led militants on Oct. 7, when the group and allied fighters stormed southern Israel and rampaged through local communities, killing around 1,200. More than 250 others were abducted that day, and over 100 were released during a temporary truce in November. Israel says 133 hostages are still in Gaza, 36 of whom are confirmed dead.

The video on Saturday, which was posted on Hamas-affiliated social media channels, is undated. But the pair make references to the Jewish holiday of Passover, which ends on Tuesday, and to being held captive for more than 200 days, suggesting the footage is recent.

Omri’s father, Dani Miran, told Israel’s Channel 12 news that he was “in tears” the second he saw his son in the video, which was the first evidence he’s seen indicating that Omri, a husband and father of two, is still alive.

The clips of Miran and Siegel were screened Saturday evening at a rally in Tel Aviv in support of the hostages. “The video shook me and all the people of Israel,” Dani Miran said in an address to the crowd.

He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approve a cease-fire deal with Hamas that would secure the hostages’ release. “Take one small and bloodless step for both peoples,” he said. “All the people of Israel and the nations of the world want to see an end to the bloodshed.”

In a recorded video statement, Keith Siegel’s wife, Aviva, addressed her husband, saying: “Keith, I love you, we will fight until you return.” Aviva Siegel was also kidnapped on Oct. 7 and was held for 51 days before her release.

The images of Miran and Siegel came just days after similar footage was released by Hamas showing U.S.-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin. Together, the videos renewed pressure on the Israeli government to negotiate a deal. For months, the talks have largely been stalled, with Israel seeking only a temporary truce and Hamas insisting any pause in the fighting be linked to a more permanent cease-fire.

Israel wants the hostages released and Hamas eliminated in Gaza. For its part, Hamas hopes Israel will agree to withdraw its troops and release some Palestinian prisoners.

On Saturday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the government could suspend a planned military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza if a deal is reached. Katz, who made the comments in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, is not part of Israel’s five-man war cabinet, which makes decisions on the country’s military operations.

Here’s what else to know

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel Monday to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where he will meet with Palestinian, Egyptian and Qatari leaders to discuss cease-fire efforts and humanitarian assistance in Gaza, the State Department said.

An internal investigation into 12 U.N. relief workers in Gaza who Israel alleged were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack has cleared one person, “as no evidence was provided by Israel to support the allegations,” said Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres. Investigations into an additional three cases have been suspended because of insufficient evidence provided by Israel, he said, and eight cases remain under investigation by the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services.

Activists who organized an aid flotilla to Gaza said Saturday that their mission was canceled, after authorities from Guinea-Bissau withdrew their country’s flag from two of the three ships. The flotilla was scheduled to depart from a port near Istanbul on Friday after multiple delays. On Thursday, the Guinea-Bissau International Ships Registry requested a last-minute inspection, activists said in a statement, calling the decision to remove the flags “blatantly political.”

At least 34,388 people have been killed and 77,437 injured in Gaza since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and says 261 soldiers have been killed since its military operation in Gaza began.

Alon Rom, Claire Parker and Susannah George contributed to this report.

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