Israel-Palestine war: What we know about the British people being help hostage by Hamas

Nearly 200 people are now believed to have been taken hostage by terrorists after an attack on Israel.

The Israeli military has not specified how many of the 199 captives are foreign nationals, but Rishi Sunak has told Parliament that 10 Britons are still missing more than a week on.

A further six Britons were killed in the Hamas’ attack on 7 October, Mr Sunak confirmed on Monday.

Hostages, some of whom were taken from a nearby music festival last Saturday, are currently being held in the heavily-militarised Gaza area. Below we look at everything we know about the ongoing situation.

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What has happened?

On Saturday 7 October, Hamas militants crossed into Israel via land, sea and air, flooding into nearby civilian towns and engaging in violent clashes with the Israeli military.

In a post on Telegram, a Brigades spokesperson said they had captured “dozens of (Israeli) officers and soldiers” in the first day of fighting. Israeli Defence Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari later confirmed Hamas fighters had taken hostages from the border community of Be’eri and the town of Okafim, 20 miles east of Gaza.

An unknown number of civilians who had been attending a music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the Gaza border, were also believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas.

One video showed a woman attending the festival being hoisted onto the back of a motorcycle and driven away by Hamas fighters.

Britons Sharon Lifschitz, left, and Noam Sagi say their parents are among the captives

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Who has been taken?

The Israeli military said on Monday that Hamas and other Palestinian militants are holding 199 hostages in Gaza – a significant increase from previous estimates of 130 hostages. However, a full list of the suspected captives has not been released.

Addressing the UK parliament on Monday afternoon, Rishi Sunak said six British citizens were killed and a further 10 are missing after the Hamas attacks.

British families of Israeli hostages held a press conference last week appealing for their loved ones to be freed.

Two Britons, Noam Sagi, 53, and Sharon Lifschitz, 52, said their elderly parents were among the hostages.

Mr Sagi’s mother, Ada Sagi, 75, was living on her own at the time she was taken according to her son. Ms Lifschitz told how her parents, whom she is not naming out of fear for their safety, were taken near the Gaza border on Saturday. She said her parents, who are both in their 80s, had been “fighting for peace” in the region their whole lives.

Two British teenage girls, aged 13 and 16, have also reportedly been kidnapped, the UK’s Israeli ambassador told Sky News on Monday morning.

A poster of Ada Sagi, believed to have been taken by Hamas millitants during the attacks

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

What has Hamas said about the captives?

The fate of the hostages is unclear. Hamas has said it is seeking the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jail in exchange for the Israeli hostages.

The military wing of Hamas, Abu Ubaida, has threatened to execute a hostage for every bomb that’s dropped on a home without warning. It is not clear if Hamas has followed through on this threat since Israel’s retaliation began next week.

Last Monday, the group claimed airstrikes had killed four hostages and their captors.

Smoke billows after an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip o

(AFP via Getty Images)

What is being done to rescue them?

The UK Foreign Office has says it will do “everything they can” to bring British hostages home.

Mr Sunak said ministers are “doing everything we can to provide support” to the British families who have loved ones taken hostage by Hamas.

Speaking to broadcasters on a visit to a Jewish secondary school in north London on Monday, the Prime Minister said: “I know it’s an anxious time for many families who will have loved ones who are impacted or missing.

“We’re providing all the consular support through the Foreign Office that we can and also providing direct support to the Israelis.”

He added that Britain is moving some Royal Navy assets into the region to “provide further support as required”.

Israel has been massing tanks along the Gaza border ahead of an expected ground invasion, while giving civilians living in the enclave time to leave.

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