Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch, tapped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as coordinator for the captives and the missing, delivered a message to Israelis on Monday that he will do everything he can to return their loved ones to them.
“Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed me to the position in charge of the issue of abductees and missing persons,” Hirsch said in a video statement.
“During these hours, we are engaged in the formation of a complete situational picture,” he said, adding his team is working with all speed to create an “effective array” to address families’ concerns.
“We lost the best of our sons and daughters: civilians, soldiers employees of the security forces,” he said. “We have many victims.”
He continued, saying “heavy tasks are ahead of us, and I am with you in the campaign to return all the missing and kidnapped people home to Israel.”
Israel denied reports earlier on Monday that it was negotiating for the release of Hamas-held hostages via Qatar, with an Israeli senior official confirming to JNS that Jerusalem is not involved in any kind of negotiations related to the release of the Israeli captives.
Qatari mediators have been trying to negotiate the freedom of Israeli women and children in exchange for the release of 36 Palestinian women and minors—security prisoners—by Israel, Reuters reported on Monday.
The negotiations, conducted by Qatar in coordination with the United States since Saturday night, have been “moving positively,” the source told the news outlet.
Hamas terrorists abducted more than 100 Israeli citizens to the Gaza Strip during Saturday’s terrorist assault, according to Israel’s Government Press Office.
Footage circulating online showed Hamas terrorists taking numerous Israelis into Gaza, including women, children and the elderly. A father interviewed by Channel 12 said his two daughters, aged 3 and 5, were missing and feared kidnapped.
The IDF is currently conducting wide-scale airstrikes on several strategic centers belonging to Hamas as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces have regained control of all the communities near the Strip, the army said on Monday. However, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari warned that there are still terrorists in the area.
Early Monday morning, exchanges of fire took place at Kibbutz Be’eri, Kibbutz Holit, Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Kibbutz Nir Oz, Kibbutz Nirim, Kibbutz Alumim and the Gavim Junction near the city of Sderot.
In addition, dozens of sirens have sounded in communities around the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and central Israel warning of possible missile strikes from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Hagari said that the military has called up more than 300,000 reservists.