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Israeli man pleads for his release in latest Gaza hostage video

Israeli man pleads for his release in latest Gaza hostage video

JERUSALEM - Elad Katzir, an Israeli farmer held hostage in Gaza for over three months, was seen pleading for his freedom in a video posted online by Palestinian group Islamic Jihad on Monday.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, and its smaller rival Islamic Jihad, have periodically released videos of hostages taken during Hamas' Oct. 7 cross-border rampage into southern Israel.

"I was close to dying more than once, it's a miracle I'm still alive," Katzir said, a black and yellow Islamic Jihad flag hung from a wall behind him. "I want to tell my family that I love them very much and I miss them very much," he said, before pausing to choke back tears.

Typically, hostage videos have been filmed in front of a wall in poor lighting, with captives reciting calls for their release. The men, like Katzir in the latest video, often have full beards. The Israeli military has said the videos amount to "psychological terror".

More than 130 hostages remain in Gaza, most believed to be in Hamas hands, after more than 100 were released during a short-lived truce in late November.

Israel says it will press on with its devastating military offensive in Gaza until Hamas is wiped out, all captives are freed and the Palestinian enclave poses no more security threat. Hamas has said it will free no more hostages at least until Israel halts the war.

Katzir, 47, was snatched by militants from the agricultural kibbutz of Nir Oz. His father was killed in his home there during Hamas' incursion and his mother was also taken hostage. She was among those later freed during the truce. Katzir appeared in a similar video from captivity last month.

Katzir was interviewed by Reuters in 2018 while working in the fields and spoke about the threat he and his neighbors felt from Hamas across the nearby border in Gaza.

"There is a chance that a sniper from the other side is watching me and I'm already in his sights," Katzir said at the time. "Instead of caring for the welfare of people in Gaza they deal with terror and in how to harm us." — Reuters