Netanyahu Confirms New Negotiations to Free Hostages, American Thought to be Hostage Pronounced Dead

JERUSALEM, Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed that Israel is participating in talks for the freeing of more hostages.

“We are holding contacts at this very moment. I cannot detail the status. We are working to return them all,” he said. The prime minister made it clear to hostage families that the Gaza military campaign is pushing Hamas to negotiate, although he called the process a “tug of war,” as Egypt and Qatar are again playing a mediating role.

Netanyahu’s announcement came as Israel was discovering that an American-Canadian-Israeli woman thought to have been a hostage was killed in the October 7th attack. Judih Weinstein, 70, from a kibbutz near Gaza, was pronounced dead Thursday after authorities determined her body was in Gaza. Just days earlier, it had been announced that her husband Gad had also been murdered on October 7th.

Media reports indicate the proposed pause in fighting this round would involve releasing 40 more hostages, primarily women, the elderly, and minors. Israel would release many Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli prisons, including some convicted of murder.

Netanyahu’s wife Sara joined her husband in meeting with the hostage families. She told them, “What Hamas has done are crimes against humanity. We all pray for the well-being of the hostages, and for their safe and speedy return.” JNS News reported Mrs. Netanyahu also related that she sent letters to 30 prominent women around the world, requesting that they press the International Committee of the Red Cross to assist the hostages.

The word on abductees came after a report on KAN News that an Islamic Jihad terrorist has admitted under interrogation that the attackers repeatedly raped, then murdered an Israeli woman during the October 7th attacks.

Months later, more eyewitnesses to the brutality are coming forward. Israel’s Channel 11 featured a man named Raz, a discharged officer who took part in the Nova Music Festival near Gaza. 

He recalled, “A white car arrived and five terrorists exited out of it. They stood in a semi-circle around her, grabbing her by force, so she wouldn’t move. It happened 30 or 40 meters from us. There was a lot of movement. He raped her. I look and see that the girl is no longer moving, but the terrorist continues to rape her. It was impossible to help her. I couldn’t do anything. I wish I had a weapon and I could help.”

Israel has repeatedly leveled strong criticism against the United Nations and other world bodies for delaying the response to the sexual violence charges committed against Israelis for weeks; The Times of Israel reported Friday that The New York Times has just published a detailed and highly graphic account of the sexual violence perpetrated on October 7th.

On the war front, another Israeli soldier was killed as the Israel Defense Forces expanded their operations around the city of Khan Younis in Gaza, bringing the total number of soldiers killed in the ground incursion to 168.

Also, two border security guards, a man and a woman, were stabbed by a terrorist, an Arab-Israeli citizen, at a checkpoint near Bethlehem, just outside Jerusalem. One was described in serious condition and the other in moderate condition. The terrorist was killed.

In the north, Israel’s military claims more than 1,700 rockets have been fired from Lebanon toward Israel, killing 15 Israelis, including nine soldiers, and injuring more than 150 people. 

An Associated Press tally numbers the dead in Lebanon from Israeli air strikes at 160, most of them Hezbollah operatives. A group called the International Organization for Migration says an estimated 74,500 people have been displaced in Lebanon during the fighting.

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