The announcement that four hostages were found dead in the Gaza Strip has renewed pressure on the Israeli government to adopt a cease-fire deal with Hamas and bring back alive those still in captivity.

The four hostages were killed several months ago in the Khan Younis area in Gaza “during our operation there against Hamas,” Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a Monday evening briefing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was working “in countless ways” to bring back hostages. “I think about them constantly, about their families and about their suffering,” he said in a statement — but emphasized that the elimination of Hamas was still the priority, despite fears for the hostages’ lives.

Fallout from the hostages’ deaths dominated Israel’s front pages Tuesday, as leading columnists argued that more should have been done to save the men.

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“Their deaths are not the result of a ‘missed opportunity.’ They are the results of failed, appalling, negligent administration; of bombastic talk,” wrote Nadav Eyal in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily. “These conclusions will no longer help the grandfathers of Nir Oz and the uncle from Nirim. They died, down in that tunnel, waiting for the IDF that never came.”

In Maariv, another daily, columnist Ben Caspit described Netanyahu as a prime minister at a crossroads, finally forced to choose between keeping his hard-line political coalition together or ending the war — a move his right-wing backers frame as a victory for Hamas.

“The balls he juggled for such a long time are falling on his head,” Caspit wrote. “He has to make a real decision.”

Monday’s announcements mean that more than a third of the hostages still being held in Gaza — 43 of the 124 — are now confirmed dead, by the prime minister’s office’s own tally. The number includes four hostages from 2014, two of whom are confirmed dead.

The news came amid a flurry of confused messaging regarding the proposal for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. On Monday, Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee that any “claims that we have agreed to a cease-fire without our conditions being met are incorrect.”

Hamas official Suhail Hindi told The Washington Post that the plan presented publicly by President Biden last week remains under discussion by the group.

The stalemate in discussions has fanned anger and dissent inside Netanyahu’s government. Far-right members of his coalition have threatened to quit and bring down the government if the deal presented by Biden is accepted.

The proposal on the table, dubbed the Israeli proposal by the White House, also filled the streets of Tel Aviv with more than 100,000 people this past weekend, all there in support and to pressure the government.

The main point of contention remaining is how and when the war will formally end. Israel has insisted that it will accept no option that would ensure the survival of Hamas. Hamas has said it requires a permanent cease-fire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory.

The International Committee of the Red Cross warned of the dangers of any additional delays in releasing hostages. “With every day that passes, more and more hostages die in captivity,” it said in a post on X. “This loss of human life is not inevitable. All hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

The risk of famine has increased as Israel makes Gaza “aid response virtually impossible,” said British antipoverty group Oxfam on Monday. Two-thirds of the population is now squeezed in less than a fifth of the strip, Oxfam said, adding that Israel’s “relentless air and land bombardment and deliberate obstruction of the humanitarian response is making it virtually impossible for aid agencies to reach trapped, starved civilians in Gaza.” Kerem Shalom is currently the only crossing in use, but the active combat zone on the inside and the long delays in Israeli approval of aid “means that missions often have to be aborted.”

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said critical desalination plants have shut down due to a lack of fuel. “People don’t have near enough water,” the agency said in a post on X. “Families & children walk long distances in the heat for water.” It emphasized that Israeli authorities must provide access “NOW.”

At least ​​36,550 people have been killed and 82,959 injured in Gaza since the war started, said the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants but says the majority of the dead are women and children. Israel estimates about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, including more than 300 soldiers, and it says 287 soldiers have been killed since the launch of its military operations in Gaza.

Hajar Harb, Lior Soroka and Hazem Balousha contributed to this report.





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