A 10-month-old baby who was the youngest hostage kidnapped and taken to Gaza on October 7th has reportedly been killed in an Israeli bombing alongside his mother and brother, Hamas has claimed.
Kfir Bibas was taken from the Nir Oz kibbutz along with his four-year-old brother, Ariel, and their mother, Shiri. His father, Yarden, was also abducted during the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel, in which about 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage.
Footage of the family’s abduction showed a terrified Shiri clutching her two sons as they were bundled away. Yarden appeared in a separate video with an apparent head injury.
Their relatives have been campaigning for their release after the brothers were not included in groups of those freed under the temporary ceasefire.
Earlier on Wednesday, relatives said their loved ones were not among the hostages due to be released as negotiations to extend the truce continued.
Shortly before Wednesday’s planned release of women and children, the military wing of Hamas said Kfir had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, along with his brother and their mother. Yarden was not mentioned.
In a statement released through the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the relatives said: “Our family has learned of Hamas’s latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials. We thank the people of Israel for their warm support but kindly request privacy during this difficult time.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was trying to verify the claims. It said in a statement: “IDF representatives spoke with the Bibas family following the recent reports and are with them at this difficult time. The IDF is assessing the accuracy of the information.
“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas must be held accountable. Hamas’s actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children. Hamas must immediately release our hostages.”
Hours earlier, relatives of the four hostages had released a heartfelt statement in which they spoke of their devastation that they were not among those to be freed on Wednesday.
“Those last days, since the beginning of the ceasefire, have been unbearably difficult for us. We’re waiting and hoping to see and to hug our family again,” they said.
“Time is critical – any single day in captivity is a major risk for their life and could irreversibly damage their bodies and minds. We demand their immediate release due to the humanitarian emergency reasons that cannot be ignored. They must be released now!”
In a press conference on Tuesday, Yarden’s sister, Ofri Bibas Levy, and cousin, Eylon Keshet, said they were “worried sick” about the family and living in a “complete nightmare”.
Israeli authorities on Tuesday said they believed the family had been handed over by Hamas to another Palestinian militant group in a possible complication of efforts to free them. – Guardian
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