Hamas armed wing: More than 60 hostages are missing due to Israeli airstrikes

People demand the immediate release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, in Tel Aviv

CAIRO (Reuters) -The armed wing of Palestinian militant faction Hamas said on Saturday that more than 60 hostages were missing because of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

Late last month, Hamas said an estimated 50 captives held by the group were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, said on Hamas' telegram account that 23 bodies of the 60 missing Israel hostages were trapped under the rubble.

"It seems that we will never be able to reach them due to the continued brutal aggression of the occupation against Gaza," he said.

Reuters could not immediately verify the statement. The Israeli army declined to comment.

The United States has been flying surveillance drones over Gaza in search of hostages taken by Hamas when the Palestinian militant group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, two U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Hamas, an armed Islamist group that governs Gaza, has so far released four civilians among the 239 believed to be held.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, writing by Hatem Maher; Editing by Emelia Sithole)