Israel’s announcement Tuesday of the death of a woman soldier abducted by Hamas militants when they stormed out of Gaza last month has again highlighted the fate of nearly 240 hostages.
Qatar is mediating talks on a deal to free some of the people snatched when Hamas swarmed into Israel across the fortified border on October 7, killing an estimated 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in the deadliest attack in Israel’s history.
Israel has responded with a relentless bombardment of Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas that has killed over 11,240 people, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Of the 239 hostages confirmed by Israel, at least 34 are children and 63 women, according to AFP’s tally.
Israeli authorities have largely avoided naming the hostages, but AFP has identified 206 people believed to still be held by Hamas or other groups inside the Gaza Strip based on interviews with relatives and Israeli media reports.
Of the 206 identified by AFP, 17 were aged 10 or under on October 7 and at least eight were in their 80s.
Their fate is highly uncertain, with only a handful appearing in proof-of-life videos.
Some people who had been believed to be in Gaza were later confirmed to have been killed in the initial Hamas attack.
The youngest hostage is Kfir Bibas, a baby boy who was just nine months old when gunmen snatched him from Nir Oz, a kibbutz community near the Gaza border, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel, father Yarden, 34, and mother Shiri, 32.
Shiri and the children appear in a video from the day of the attack seen by the family, showing them surrounded by gunmen and looking panic-stricken.
Yaffa Adar, who was 85 at the time of the attack on Nir Oz, is one of the oldest hostages.
She was filmed being whisked away on what appeared to be a golf cart loaded with militants.
The majority of the 206 hostages identified by AFP are men.
Five women have already been released — four by Hamas and one freed by the Israeli army during its Gaza offensive.
Apart from Israel, 27 countries count citizens among the hostages, many of whom are dual nationals, according to figures from the Israeli foreign ministry.
At least 25 Thai nationals were abducted along with 21 Argentines, 18 Germans, 10 US citizens, seven French and seven Russians, according to figures provided by their respective governments.
Seven from same family
At least 31 families had more than one member taken hostage, with two families having seven members snatched from their homes.
Tal Shoham, 38, was taken from Beeri, another kibbutz community that saw some of the worst atrocities of the Hamas attacks, together with six relatives.
His wife, Adi, 38, eight-year-old son Nave and three-year-old daughter Yahel, are also believed to be held in Gaza, as are Adi’s mother Shoshan Haran, 67, her aunt, Sharon Avigdori, 52, and Sharon’s daughter Noam, aged 12.
Other members of their extended family were killed in the attacks, according to media reports.
The other family to have seven members abducted is from Nir Oz, the kibbutz which had at least 70 of its around 400 residents snatched — the highest toll for a single community.
Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34, husband David, 33, and their twin three-year-old daughters Emma and Yuly, were all seized on October 7. So were David’s brother Ariel and Sharon’s sister Danielle, and Danielle’s five-year-old daughter Amelia.
Danielle, 44, appeared in a video released by Hamas on October 30 along with two other women named in a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Yelena Trupanov and Rimon Kirsht.
In the video, Aloni urged Netanyahu to agree a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians.
Sign of life
Many of the hostages come from kibbutz communities.
At least 26 were taken from kibbutz Beeri, where at least 85 residents were killed, and four people remain missing, a kibbutz spokesman told AFP.
Dozens more hostages were snatched from the Supernova desert rave where Hamas gunmen gunned down scores of revellers in a pre-dawn raid and took at least 38 hostages.
At least nine Israeli soldiers or military observers are believed to be among the hostages, according to AFP’s tally, which was revised after the Israeli army on Tuesday confirmed the death of soldier Noa Marciano.
Meanwhile, Hamas has so far released four hostages, and a captive soldier was freed in an Israeli army operation inside Gaza.
The Palestinian militant group has released two proof-of-life videos, one of Aloni and two other women, and an earlier clip showing French-Israeli woman Mia Shem, 21, pleading for help.
Islamic Jihad, another Palestinian militant group in Gaza, on November 9 released a video it said showed two other hostages — Hannah Katzir, a woman in her 70s, and Yagil Yaakov, 13.
Between 15 and 30 other people, mostly foreigners, are still considered missing, according to Israeli media.
They are believed to have either been taken captive or to have been killed on October 7 but not yet been identified.
Source : Zawya