The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warned that at least 136 people remain kidnapped by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, IDF spokesman, stated that among those hostages there are 17 women and children.
The Israeli army also confirmed this Friday the death of five hostages held in Gaza, saying that their families had been informed and that the body of one of them had returned to Israel.
“In recent days, the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli police informed the families of hostages Eliyahu Margalit, Maya Goren, Ronen Engel and Arye Zalmanovitz of their deaths,” Hagari stated, saying that troops had recovered the body of a fifth person whom he identified as Ofir Tsarfati.
Hagari noted that Tsarfati’s body had been “located in recent days” in Gaza by troops and the Shin Bet internal security service and transferred to Israel for burial, and that the family had been informed of his death on Wednesday.
Tsarfati was kidnapped at a rave near the Gaza Strip during the Hamas attacks on October 7, when terrorists swept into southern Israel killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping about 240 hostages.
Furthermore, the IDF spokesperson made statements regarding the case of the Bibas familystating that a claim made earlier in the week by Hamas’s armed wing about the mother, Shiri, and her two young children: 10-month-old Kfir and 4-year-old Ariel, “has not been verified.”
The militants had claimed that the three had been killed in an Israeli bombing raid before the now-suspended truce began on November 24. “The Bibas family, the mother and children, had to return to Israel and Hamas decided not to do so”Hagari said, referring to the week-long hostage exchange deal in which 80 Israeli hostages, mostly women and children, were freed.
“The information that Hamas publishes has not been verified by us, so we do not address this issue,” he added.
Since October 7, Israel has been carrying out a massive military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas and returning the hostages. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, stated this Friday that Israeli troops have taken measures to bring civilians in Gaza to safety after fighting resumed over the end of the truce with Hamas.