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War on Gaza: Hostage's mother says he was poisoned by Israeli army in tunnel

The mother of a hostage who died says her son inhaled fumes from weapons deployed by the Israeli army in Gaza but officials have not confirmed a cause
Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza on 12 January (AFP/Israeli army)

The Israeli army said it was unable to confirm the causes of the deaths of three Israeli hostages in Gaza, amid accusations by one captive's mother that he was poisoned during combat operations.

Israel repatriated the bodies of soldiers Ron Sherman and Nik Beizer, and French-Israeli civilian Elia Toledano, from Gaza in December, and initially claimed the hostages were killed by Hamas.

However, Maayan Sherman, mother of Ron, accused the Israeli army of poisoning her son.

“We were told that there is a reasonable possibility that he inhaled toxic gases from the IDF bombs,” she wrote on Facebook.

The Israeli army says it does not know how the men died.

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“At this stage it cannot be denied nor confirmed that they were killed due to strangulation, suffocation, poisoning, or as the result of an IDF attack or Hamas operation,” the army said in a statement.

The army said it found the bodies of the abductees in a Hamas tunnel in Jabaliya, near the site where Ahmed Jarandor, commander of Hamas’ northern brigade, had been killed a month earlier.

It claimed that it was not aware of the hostages’ location when they struck the tunnel Jarandor was in.

Mask of lies

Maayan disputes this claim, saying army Major General Rasan Alian told her they were aware of her son’s location at any given moment.

She called the army’s latest statement “another lie in the mask of lies”.

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Maayan also questioned whether Israel was trying to whitewash the operation, as she believes they may have sacrificed the three hostages in order to kill Jarandor.

She said the Israeli army pumped poisonous gas into the tunnel area where her son was being held.

On Facebook, she claimed that her son was “indeed murdered – not by Hamas. Think more like Auschwitz and the showers, but without Nazis."

The Israeli army previously admitted to killing hostages in its war on Gaza, causing uproar within Israeli society. 

Hamas says more than 20 hostages have been killed by Israeli bombings but Israel has not confirmed these deaths.

In November, a four-day truce allowed for the release of scores of Israeli hostages and foreigners held by armed groups in Gaza. 

Most of these were civilians, including the elderly and children. Around 132 captives remain in Gaza.

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