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Israel says 4 more hostages declared dead in Gaza amid pressure for ceasefire

Click to play video: 'War in Gaza: Israeli strike on school kills dozens of people'
War in Gaza: Israeli strike on school kills dozens of people
WATCH: Hamas says at least 40 Palestinian civilians, including children, are dead in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza, after an Israeli airstrike hit a school where thousands of people were sheltering and sleeping. Israel says it was targeting a Hamas compound inside the school. Jackson Proskow reports on what Israel is accusing Hamas of, and how the attack is hampering efforts to reach a ceasefire. – Jun 6, 2024

The Israeli military said another four Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 had died in captivity and that their bodies are being held by the Palestinian Islamist group.

The four men were identified as Chaim Peri, 80, Yoram Metzger, 80, Amiram Cooper, 84, and Nadav Popplewell, 51.

Military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that new intelligence led to confirmation of their deaths. The military believes the four were killed together in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis a “number of months” ago when Israeli forces were operating in the city, Hagari said in remarks that were broadcast.

“We are thoroughly examining the circumstances of their deaths and checking all possibilities. We will present soon the findings, first to their families, and then to the public,” he said. “We will present them with transparency, as we have done until now.”

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Israel continues airstrikes in central Gaza, kills at least 11 as world leaders push for truce

Of the more than 250 people abducted on Oct. 7, about 120 remain in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies. Many have been declared dead by Israeli authorities.

Peri was at his house in Kibbutz Nir Oz during the Hamas attack. He tried to repel the gunmen while hiding his wife behind a sofa, his son later told Reuters. He eventually gave himself up to save his wife, who remained hidden, his son said.

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Cooper and Metzger, also from Nir Oz, were captured along with their wives, both of whom were returned to Israel during a brief November truce.

Popplewell, according to a hostages support group, was captured with his mother from her home in Kibbutz Nirim. His brother was killed during the attack. His mother was freed during the November truce.

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Pressure builds on ceasefire deal

Monday’s announcement heightens pressure on both sides of the conflict to accept a proposed deal that could end the eight-month-old conflict.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies “fully endorse and will stand behind the comprehensive” ceasefire and hostage release deal for the Gaza conflict outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden and call on Hamas to accept it, a statement said on Monday.

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The deal “would lead to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza, and an enduring end to the crisis, with Israel’s security interests and Gazan civilian safety assured,” the statement said.

The G7, of which Italy holds the rotating presidency for 2024, reaffirmed support “for a credible pathway towards peace leading to a two state solution.”

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Permanent Gaza ceasefire requires ‘destruction’ of Hamas, despite Israeli proposal: Netanyahu

Biden laid out what he described as a three-phase Israeli ceasefire proposal last week, winning a positive initial reaction from Hamas.

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An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel had accepted the framework deal for winding down the Gaza conflict, though he described it as flawed and in need of much more work.

“We call on Hamas to accept this deal, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and we urge countries with influence over Hamas to help ensure that it does so,” the G7 statement said.

–Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Angelo Amante; Editing by Deepa Babington and Toby Chopra

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