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Popplewell’s family hopeful as death unconfirmed



South African born grandmother and former Hamas hostage Channah Peri clings to hope that her son, Nadav Popplewell, is still alive, in spite of Hamas declaring him dead last weekend.

Popplewell, 51, a British-Israeli citizen was abducted with Peri, 79, at Kibbutz Nirim in southern Israel on 7 October when Hamas terrorists crossed the border fence and launched murderous attacks.

Peri who was born Denise Adele Levy in Johannesburg, but grew up in parts of the Cape, was released last November during a temporary ceasefire agreed between Hamas and Israel, leaving her son behind. She was unaware that her other son, Roi, 54, who lived nearby, had been murdered by Hamas near their home during the attack. Roi was buried while Peri was in captivity.

The terror group claimed on Saturday, 11 May, that Nadav, who like her suffers from diabetes, had died of wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike more than a month ago.

But this was only after Hamas had earlier that day released an undated 10-second propaganda video on social media of him as a hostage in an unknown location.

In it, Popplewell can be seen with a heavily bruised right eye, saying his name under duress.

The footage is superimposed with text in Arabic and Hebrew that reads, “Time is running out. Your government is lying.”

The Israeli military didn’t comment on the latest video or Hamas’s statement, and hasn’t published or confirmed information about whether Popplewell is alive or dead.

Popplewell’s sister, Ayelet Svatitzky, told the SA Jewish Report, “The video doesn’t change our mission. We’ll keep fighting for my brother’s release.”

She and her mother have been on an emotional roller-coaster this week as Israel commemorated Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) followed by Yom Hazikaron, the memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

Popplewell was born in the town of Wakefield in Yorkshire, but lived in Israel for at least two decades.

Adam Rose and Adam Wagner, part of the legal team acting pro bono for British-linked families of hostages since 7 October both issued statements on Sunday, 12 May.

“It was announced yesterday that one of our clients had died,” Rose said. “When I say that he died, what I mean is that after being taken as a hostage from his home in Israel on 7 October 2023, yesterday, Hamas announced Nadav Popplewell’s death. We – Adam Wagner, Katy Colton, and I – have been working for him and his family since October.

“We got to know him, and his brother, Roi, who was murdered by Hamas on 7 October, and his mother, Channah, who was released in exchange for prisoners in November, in ways and in circumstances we have never wanted to get to know a client.

“Nadav Popplewell is, or was, one of two British citizens held hostage by Hamas. If the report is true – and at this time it remains unconfirmed by the United Kingdom Foreign Office and the Israeli authorities – he’s the 16th British citizen murdered by Hamas since 7 October.

“His death would represent a total failure of leadership around the world to secure his release – of his own government, of those states intervening to try to get the hostages released, and of the terrorists of Hamas, who will be defeated.”

Svatitzky told the newspaper last year how gunmen had attacked the kibbutz in southern Israel where they lived, killing her older brother.

On the day of the attack, Svatitzky said she received two pictures, sent by the attackers from her mother’s phone, showing the pair sitting in her mother’s living room, with the word “Hamas” written in English.

Hours later, a third picture was posted on her mother’s Facebook account, showing them with an armed Hamas gunman in the corner.

Svatitzky said her mother was physically very weak upon her release, and continues to guard her privacy.

Wagner, a barrister, also issued a statement on Sunday, saying, ”We’ve been acting for British-linked families of hostages since October. Some have been released, two have now died. We’ve become close to their families as they have experienced the extreme trauma of the uncertainty around the hostage situation, and the cruelty of Hamas – for example, in this case, as with Yossi Sharabi before, they revealed Nadav’s death through a series of ‘tease’ videos like a reality TV series. One thing people don’t necessarily realise is that many of the hostage families have also had family members murdered. They are experiencing double or triple traumas.

“After seven months, though I’ve never met Nadav, or Oded, or Eli, or Emily, I feel like I know them to an extent. I spoke about Oded to my synagogue just yesterday as it was his 84th birthday. And now we’ve lost another.”

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, “I can’t give you any new updates this morning. Like everyone else, I watched the video on X last night, put out by Hamas, of Nadav answering a question as to who he was. You just think, what callous people they are to do that, to play with the family’s emotions in that way!

“I met Nadav’s family, his sister, and I know the heartbreak they’ve been going through for more than 200 days, and when you see what Hamas is prepared to do, you realise the terrible, dreadful, inhuman people, frankly, that we’re dealing with.”

The video of Popplewell was the third such video Hamas has aired in recent weeks, following clips of other hostages like Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Keith Siegel, and Omri Miran that were released in late April.

In urging the Israeli government to act urgently to secure their release, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum stated that any sign of life from the captives was a distressing plea for action.

About 132 Israelis remain captive, having been held by Hamas for more than seven months.

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