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Hamas captures hostages as Israelis share photos of those missing

<i>Reuters</i><br/>Hamas captured a number of Israelis during its deadly attack on Israel on Saturday
Hamas captured a number of Israelis during its deadly attack on Israel on Saturday

By Hadas Gold, Paul P. Murphy, Abeer Salman, Ibrahim Dahman, Kareem Khadder, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Allegra Goodwin, CNN

(CNN) — Hamas captured a number of Israelis during its deadly attack on Israel on Saturday, the Israeli military said, as videos emerged of Israeli soldiers and civilians being taken away by fighters from the Palestinian militant group.

Meanwhile Israelis are sharing photos of friends and family who they say have apparently been kidnapped by Hamas fighters and are urging the public to help spread the word in the hope of getting them back safely.

Hamas fired rockets from Gaza and sent gunmen into Israeli territory, prompting Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare that the country is “at war.” At least 300 people in Israel were killed in the unprecedented attack, an Israeli official told CNN Saturday night, and Israeli media reported that at least 1,500 people have been wounded.

At least 232 Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Saturday, with 1,697 injured, the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said in a statement.

At least one Israeli soldier has been taken prisoner, a new video geolocated and authenticated by CNN shows.

The video, posted to Hamas’ official social media accounts, shows militants yank two clearly terrified and stunned soldiers out of a disabled tank. It’s unclear from the video how the tank was disabled, but Hamas has used drones to drop bombs onto Israeli tanks before.

One of the soldiers is then seen in a short snippet of video being kicked on the ground by the militants. In another clip, the soldier is seen lying motionless on the ground.

The second soldier is seen being led away by Hamas militants. A third soldier – his face very bloody – is seen lying on the ground motionless near the tank track. CNN does not know the current whereabouts or status of the three soldiers.

A second video, taken afterward, shows a number of different armed men around the tank. The three soldiers are nowhere to be seen.

The armed men are then seen pulling a fourth Israeli soldier from the tank. The soldier is motionless as he’s dragged down the side of the tank and onto the ground. The armed men are seen stomping on his body.

The Izzedine al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed to capture “dozens” of Israelis on Saturday.

“We bring good news to our (Palestinian) prisoners and our people that the al Qassam Brigades have dozens of captured (Israeli) officers and soldiers in their hands,” Al Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obaida said in a post on Telegram. “They have been secured in safe places and resistance tunnels.”

In a recorded audio message released later Saturday, Obaida said that all captured Israelis “are present in all axes in the Gaza Strip.”

“What happens to the people of the Gaza Strip will happen to them and beware of miscalculation,” he added.

On Saturday evening, the Israel Defense Forces said the number of civilians captured by Hamas is “unfortunately, a significant number.”

Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “it is unprecedented in our history that we have so many Israeli nationals in the hands of a terrorist organization.”

“These are numbers that we have never, ever seen before and these are, they’re unprecedented, and they will force an unprecedented response from Israel,” Conricus said.

‘Situation is not looking good’

Yoni Asher, a resident of Sharon region, told CNN’s Erin Burnett he recognized his wife from a viral video that shows a group of people loaded on the back of a truck flanked by Hamas militants. Chants of “Allahu Akbar,” (God is Great), are heard throughout the video.

The footage shows a woman in the back of the truck as a militant puts a scarf on her head. Asher told CNN that the woman is his wife and he’s sharing the video to raise awareness of their situation. CNN has not been able to independently verify the video.

Asher said his wife and young daughters were visiting his mother-in-law in Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border. He said he suspected they may have been abducted. He tracked his wife’s phone and learned that it was located in Gaza. Later that day, he saw the viral clip.

“I don’t even know what the situation is regarding the hostages, and the situation is not looking good,” he said.

Hamas has not taken hostages in years. Until now, it was known to hold two civilians who crossed the border and were captured, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Gilad Shalit, a 19-year-old soldier, was captured in 2006 and kept for five years before his release as part of a swap that saw more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners freed.

Videos of captives

Other videos geolocated by CNN appear to show where Hamas appears to have taken other Israelis captive.

In one of the videos, geolocated by CNN to the neighborhood of Shejaiya in Gaza, a barefoot woman is seen being pulled from the trunk of a Jeep by a gunman and then forced into the back seat of the car. Her face is bleeding, and her wrists appear to be cable-tied behind her back. The Jeep appears to have an IDF license plate, suggesting it may have been stolen and brought into Gaza.

A second video, which appears to show Hamas militants taking multiple Israelis captive, was geolocated by CNN to Be’eri in southern Israel, a village close to Gaza.

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari says Ofakim in the Negev and Beeri near the Gaza Strip are the “main focal points” where there are hostage situations.

“We are fighting in 22 locations,” he said without specifying further.

Hagari said that the IDF is getting ready for a ground incursion, and “all options are on the table.”

“Hundreds of thousands” of IDF army personnel would be called up, he said.

“A wide reserve mobilization has begun,” he said. “There are four divisions that we are immediately bringing down to Gaza; 31 regular battalions are already in Otef and the south. Tanks are also brought down to the Strip.”

“The main effort is to kill all the terrorists on the fence, all those who try to return to the Strip. First of all, we will deal with fire from the air, and then also with heavy ground tools.”

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Allegra Goodwin, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Denis Lapin contributed to this report.

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