Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), told Newsmax on Tuesday that Palestinian militant group Hamas is withholding the bodies of deceased hostages to use them for "political leverage."
"We are aware of military personnel who were taken when they were already dead," Conricus said during an appearance on Newsmax's "The Record with Greta Van Susteren." "A few of them [the families] have been informed as much by the Israeli authorities. Even today, three families got that very bitter notice that the bodies of their loved ones were held by Hamas, and the working assumption is that they are not the only ones. I cannot give more details about it, but there are women, children, a 10-month-old baby – who is the youngest one – and all the Holocaust survivors – 84 years of age and everything in between – still in the tunnels of Hamas under Gaza."
The Times of Israel reported that the IDF declared three soldiers as deceased, identifying them as Sgt. Shaked Dahan, 19; Staff Sgt. Tomer Yaakov Ahimas, 20; and Sgt. Kiril Brodski, 19. They were described as "fallen soldiers held hostage by a terror group" who were earlier reported as being kidnapped during the Hamas raids.
Conricus said he could not disclose additional details as to how many hostages might not be alive anymore.
Last week, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) announced the death of 76-year-old Katzir Hanna, who was taken hostage during the Hamas surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Hanna, a mother of three and grandmother of six, was abducted from the town of Nir Oz; her husband was killed by Hamas terrorists the day of the brutal attack.
The PIJ had previously suggested releasing Hanna on humanitarian grounds due to her need for daily life-saving medication. The group blamed her death on what it called the "procrastination" of Israel.
When asked the reason for withholding bodies, Conricus said, "It is political leverage."
"It is media attention, and it is for domestic political purposes in the Arab world to claim that they are fighting Israel – to do such a dishonorable act as depriving someone of a proper burial – and it is in order to negotiate the release of convicted felons from Israeli prisons," he said.
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Nicole Wells ✉
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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