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Israel mourns death of four hostages in Gaza, doubts about truce

Israel mourns the death of four hostages in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. the time when doubts are growing about the chances of succeeding in a ceasefire plan announced by American President Joe Biden.

In the Palestinian territory besieged and devastated by nearly eight months of war, Israeli bombings continued in the early hours of Tuesday, notably in al-Bureij (center), where local hospital sources reported several deaths.

In northern Israel, firefighters and the army tried on Tuesday to control forest fires after rocket attacks from neighboring Lebanon, the Lebanese-Israeli border being the scene of almost daily shooting since the start of the war in Gaza.

In a statement, the army said Monday that it had “informed the families of Chaïm Peri, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper and Nadav Popplewell” of the death of these four hostages kidnapped during the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7 and taken to the neighboring Gaza Strip. Their bodies are still in the hands of Hamas, she added.

“We believe that the four (hostages) were killed while they were together in an area of ​​Khan Younes (southern Gaza), during our operation there against Hamas,” said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, army spokesperson.

Amiram Cooper, 84 years old, Yoram Metzger, 80 years old, and Chaïm Peri, 80 years old, were from the Nir Oz kibbutz, where they had been kidnapped. Nadav Popplewell, a British-Israeli citizen, was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nirim.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nadav Popplewell (…) With a new agreement on the table, we reiterate our request to Hamas to release the hostages”, reacted on X the head of British diplomacy, David Cameron.

“They should have returned alive to their country and to their families,” said the Hostage Families Forum, as pressure intensifies on Benjamin Netanyahu's government to achieve an agreement for their release.

– Roadmap –

The plan announced Friday evening by the American President Joe Biden – a road map proposed by Israel according to him – plans in a first phase a six-week ceasefire accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza, the release of certain hostages – women and sick – and Palestinian prisoners.

But Israel deemed this proposal “incomplete”, according to government spokesperson David Mencer. “Allegations that we agreed to a ceasefire without our conditions being met are incorrect,” Netanyahu said.

Israel mourns death of four hostages in Gaza, doubts about truce

A ball of fire and a cloud of smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike on the town of al-Bureij, in the central Gaza Strip, June 3, 2024 © AFP – Bashar TALEB

Israel constantly repeats these conditions: the “destruction” of Hamas and the release “of all the hostages”.

Hamas, which does not has not yet given its definitive response, said it considered the plan “positively” while reiterating its demands for a permanent ceasefire and a total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza before any agreement. Which Israel refuses.

“I urge all parties to immediately reach an agreement to achieve a ceasefire and release the hostages. there is no alternative: any delay costs lives every day,” declared Tuesday the UN envoy for the Middle East, Tor Wennesland, on his return from a visit to Gaza where he said he had observed “the devastating impacts” of war.

The contradictory demands reiterated by the belligerents and the reactions coming from Israel cast growing doubts on this plan as calls multiply around the world to stop the conflict which enters its ninth month this week.

The war was sparked by the October 7 attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to a AFP count based on official Israeli figures.

Israel mourns death of four hostages in Gaza, doubts about truce

A photo of Israeli hostage Nadav Popplewell, whose death was announced by the army, held up by relatives on February 28, 2024 near the site of the Supernova music festival in southern Israel © AFP – JACK GUEZ

Of the 251 people taken as hostages during the attack, 120 are still detained in Gaza, of whom 41 have died, according to the army which launched a vast offensive in this territory in retaliation which killed more than of 36,479 Palestinians, according to data from the Hamas administration's Ministry of Health.

The G7 countries said they “fully” supported the plan presented by Joe Biden. And the United States announced a draft UN Security Council resolution to support this proposed agreement in Gaza.

– “No water ” –

On Monday, the Israeli army nevertheless continued its ground offensive launched on May 7 in Rafah (south), a border town with Egypt, to destroy, according to it, the last battalions of Hamas.

Israel mourns death of four hostages in Gaza, doubts about truce

Buildings destroyed and damaged in the Gaza Strip © AFP – Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA, Laurence SAUBADU, Hervé BOUILLY

Air strikes and artillery fire have targeted western Rafah as the ground offensive has forced, according to the UN, around a million Palestinians to flee the city.

In the ruins of Khan Younès, fate is relentless for the displaced who have found themselves submerged by sewage. With small containers or plastic bottles, they try to evacuate the dirty and nauseating water from their tents after a pipe burst.

“It’s not a life,” says Abdellah Barbakh, a resident. “There is no drinking water. There is not even a water seller in the streets. There is not even sea water,” said another, Saïd Ashour.

In northern Israel, firefighters are battling forest fires that broke out after rocket fire from Lebanon, forcing in particular the evacuation of residences in Kiryat Shmona according to the police.

Israel mourns death of four hostages in Gaza, doubts about truce

Fires break out following rocket fire from Lebanon into northern Israel, near the town of Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border, June 3, 2024 © AFP – Jalaa MAREY

An AFP photographer in this northeastern city saw intense fires devouring sections of this area near the border with Lebanon, the scene of almost daily exchanges of fire between Israeli army and Hezbollah on the sidelines of the war in Gaza.

Proof that the conflict still engulfs the region: men attacked on Palestine Street, in Baghdad, two restaurants associated with the United States, a KFC and a Chili House, against a backdrop of calls for a boycott of American brands in the midst of the war in Gaza.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116