ABOUT 50 Israeli hostages taken by Hamas raiders have been killed in Israel’s air strikes on Gaza, the terror group claimed.
The organisation’s armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, released a statement blaming the deaths on “Zionist strikes”.
GettyHamas has made unverified claims up to 50 hostages have been killed in Israel’s air strikes on Gaza[/caption]
It read: “Al-Qassam Brigades estimates that the number of Zionist prisoners who were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Zionist strikes and massacres has reached almost 50.”
The claims cannot be verified.
Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said: “The effort to return the hostages is a top priority.”
Officials said at least half of the hostages have foreign passports.
Despite the claim that almost a quarter are dead, Qatari negotiators yesterday held out hope that all could be released soon.
Dr Mohammed Al Khulaifi, Qatar’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said releases would be possible only with a ceasefire.
He said: “Any escalation is going to make our job harder.
“Our target is to release all of the civilian hostages.”
Meanwhile, Israel said Hamas’s deputy head of intelligence, Shadi Barud, who helped plan the terror attack, was killed in an air strike.