British man among four hostages to die in Gaza captivity, Israeli military says

Nadav Popplewell was taken hostage in the October 7 Hamas attacks  ((Family handout/PA))
Nadav Popplewell was taken hostage in the October 7 Hamas attacks ((Family handout/PA))

A British man is among four more hostages abducted by Hamas who have died while held captive in Gaza, Israel’s military has announced.

Hamas claimed in May that 51-year-old Nadav Popplewell had died after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike a month previously – prompting the UK Foreign Office to say it was urgently seeking more information.

The British-Israeli national has now been confirmed by the Israeli military to be among four men to have recently died while being held captive by Hamas, after being abducted during the Palestinian militants’ cross-border attack on 7 October, in which Popplewell’s brother Roi was killed.

Nadav’s brother Roi Popplewell was buried at kibbutz Yagur near Haifa, on 27 October (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Nadav’s brother Roi Popplewell was buried at kibbutz Yagur near Haifa, on 27 October (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The others were named as Haim Perry, Yoram Metzger and Amiram Cooper, each of whom were previously filmed alive in hostage videos posted by Hamas.

Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Monday that new intelligence had led to confirmation of the four men’s deaths, which they said took place in the southern city of Khan Younis.

“We estimate the four of them were killed together in the area of Khan Younis a number of months ago while being held by Hamas terrorists, at the time IDF forces were operating in Khan Younis,” Mr Hagari said in remarks that were broadcast.

“We are thoroughly examining the circumstances of their deaths and checking all possibilities. We will present soon the findings, first to their families, and then to the public,” he said. “We will present them with transparency, as we have done until now.”

And with Benjamin Netanyahu’s government facing pressure to accept a new truce and hostages deal outlined by US president Joe Biden, Mr Hagari insisted on Monday that his country’s forces would be able to ensure Israel’s security in any Gaza deal ultimately decided on.

Foreign secretary David Cameron said on Monday night that he was “greatly saddened” to hear of Mr Popplewell’s death, adding: “My thoughts are with his loved ones at this terrible time for them.

“With a new deal on the table, we reiterate our demand for Hamas to send all hostages home.”

Yorkshire-born Mr Popplewell was captured with his 79-year-old mother, Channah Peri, from her home in Kibbutz Nirim on 7 October, according to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. She was released during a temporary ceasefire in November.

On 11 May, Hamas published undated footage of Mr Popplewell with a black eye, confirming his name to the camera. But the militant group released a second video hours later in which they said he died of wounds sustained in a missile strike.

Israel has previously denied accusations by Hamas that hostages were killed by Israeli fire during the war in which Hamas-run health authorities say more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Of the more than 250 people abducted on the 7 October attack – which left 1,200 dead and triggered the war – around 120 hostages remain in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies. Many have been declared dead by Israeli authorities.

Mr Peri, another of the four men named on Monday, was at his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz during the Hamas attack. He tried to repel the gunmen while hiding his wife behind a sofa, his son later told Reuters. He eventually gave himself up to save his wife, who remained hidden.

Mr Cooper and Mr Metzger, also from Nir Oz, were captured along with their wives, both of whom were returned to Israel during the brief November truce.

Additional reporting by Reuters