Foreign Office investigating Hamas claim British-Israeli hostage killed in Gaza

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Foreign Office investigating Hamas claim British-Israeli hostage killed in Gaza

Nadav Popplewell was seized with his mother Channah Peri on 7 October

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Nadav Popplewell, abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nirim (Courtesy)
Nadav Popplewell, abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nirim (Courtesy)

The Foreign Office has said it is investigating a claim by Hamas that British-Israeli hostage Nadav Popplewell has died in Gaza.

Popplewell, 51, was seized with his mother Channah Peri at Kibbutz Nirim in southern Israel on 7 October when fighters crossed the border fence and launched deadly attacks.

In a statement via the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the Popplewell family asked media organisations not to publish footage of him released by Hamas on Saturday, which shows him in captivity with a black eye.

The terror group claimed on Saturday Popplewell had died of wounds sustained in an Israeli airstrike more than a month ago.

But only after they had released a video on social of him as a hostage in an unknown location.

The Israeli military did not offer immediate comment on the latest video.

In it Popplewell can be seen with a bruise on his right eye.

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

Popplewell was born in the town of Wakefield in Yorkshire but had 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 October 7 both issued moving statements on Sunday.

Rose, a partner with the firm Mishcon de Reya, said:”It was announced yesterday that one of our clients had died.

“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 UK Foreign Office and the Israeli authorities), he is 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 governments, of those states intervening to try to get the hostages released, and of the terrorists of Hamas, who will be defeated, both despite the atrocities that they have committed and because of the atrocities that they have committed.

“Our hearts go out to his mother and to his sister.”

Popplewell’s sister Ayelet Svatitzky told the BBC last October how gunmen had attacked the kibbutz in southern Israel where they lived, killing her older brother Roi.

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 showing them with an armed Hamas gunman in the corner.

Svatitzky’s mother was released last November during a temporary ceasefire agreed between Hamas and Israel.

Adam Wagner, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers also issued a statement on Sunday, saying:”We are devastated to hear the news (not yet confirmed by the British government) that Nadav Popplewell, a British hostage of Hamas whose family we have been acting for, has died.

“We have been acting for British linked families of hostages since October. Some have been released, two have now died. we have become close to their families as they have experienced the extreme trauma of the uncertainty around the hostage situation, the cruelty of Hamas (eg 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 that people don’t necessarily realise that many of the hostage families have also had family members murdered. They are experiencing double or triple traumas.

“Personally, after 7 months, though I have never met Nadav, or Oded, or Eli, or Emily, I feel like a know them to an extent. I spoke about Oded to my synagogue just yesterday as it was his 84th birthday. And now we have lost another.

“Our hearts go out to them. As Adam Rose says, at the centre of this is a failure. Perhaps many failures. We will continue to do whatever we can from here to help, and hope beyond hope for no more failures, and especially for a deal to be made. Sadly, for all of our clients, hope – and time – is running out.

“May Nadav’s memory be a blessing.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday morning, foreign secretary David Cameron confirmed that he had seen the video, but gave no further updates on the investigations.”We don’t want to say anything until we have better information,” Lord Cameron said

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