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Dec 6, 2023, 4:44pm EST
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

Netanyahu faces growing anger from hostages and their families

Relatives and supporters of hostages rally for their release.
REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
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Hostages freed from Hamas are increasingly expressing their anger at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the conflict.

A recent meeting between Netanyahu and the freed hostages and their families was described as tense, as the prime minister faced bitter criticism for not doing enough to secure the release of the remaining captives.

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In leaked audio of the meeting, one woman, who was freed with her children but whose husband remains in captivity, told him: “The feeling we had there was that no one was doing anything for us. The fact is that I was in a hiding place that was shelled and we had to be smuggled out and we were wounded.” Over 100 hostages were released last month, but more than 100 still remain in Gaza.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Concerns largely surround the health of the remaining hostages and the conditions they’re being held in, with families accusing the government of prioritizing politics over their return. One woman reportedly told Netanyahu, “All you’re thinking about is collapsing Hamas. Give them back whoever they want and bring everybody back.” Some hostages’ conditions are reportedly deteriorating and they are “now in immediate danger of life due to untreated injuries or illnesses,” according to the medical head of a campaign aimed at bringing the Israelis home.

Netanyahu’s primary focus is holding onto his seat and appeasing his base, B. Michael argues in Haaretz. An aggressive war benefits the prime minister who is bombarding Gaza without logic in the hope of satisfying his supporters who want action and blood. “What will become of the hostages? The base is more important,” Michael writes.

The possibility that Israel could flood Hamas’s tunnels under the Gaza Strip with seawater is raising concerns about the safety of hostages who have been held there, the Wall Street Journal reports. It’s unclear whether Israel would use the slate of water pumps it has amassed before the hostages are returned, but the idea is already getting pushback. “You are talking about washing the tunnels with seawater? You are shelling the route of tunnels in the exact area where they are,” one freed hostage reportedly said.

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