Israel PM's wife Sara Netanyahu accuses Gaza hostage families of 'helping Hamas'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara criticised relatives of hostages in Gaza for "helping Hamas" while accompanying her husband during a meeting with the families on Tuesday, Israeli media reported.
Sara Netanyahu told the families of hostages that their public statements critical of her husband’s handling of the war and securing the return of their loved ones was helping Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, according to Israel’s Channel 12.
This reportedly provoked angry responses from the families, including from some who allegedly shouted at her.
Some relatives pointed out that recently released hostages said messages from relatives via the media helped them endure their captivity in Gaza.
The prime minister attempted to defend his wife as things got heated, saying that she was concerned over the plight of the hostages.
He allegedly told the families that while releasing hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners is currently off the table, Israel is "mulling declaring the deportation of Sinwar from Gaza".
This is likely a reference to reports that Israel could allow Hamas leaders to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of all remaining hostages, Channel 12 reported.
Netanyahu’s government has come under heavy criticism from many of the families of hostages, with some claiming that Israel’s tactic of waging an indiscriminate land and air war on Gaza - which has killed more than 22,000 people - puts the lives of the hostages at risk.
Netanyahu has met with only a handful of the families, with many coming away from the meetings frustrated at his unwillingness to share information or put forward a definitive ceasefire plan to secure their release.
Hamas still holds 126 Israeli and 11 non-Israeli hostages. Some 110 were released as part of a hostage-prisoner exchange deal struck in November.
Israel continues to hold over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including over 200 children. Some 2,000 prisoners are being held in administrative detention - without charge or trial.