Babies, Over-80s, Entire Families: The Gaza Hostages

At least 35 of those taken hostage were children, with 18 of them aged 10 or under at the time of the Hamas attack.


Family member of hostages held by Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, holding a portrait of his relatives at the Italian Jewish Center, during a press conference after having a meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, in Rome, on November 22, 2023. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

 

 

 

Following the announcement that Gaza militant group Hamas will release at least 50 hostages as part of a deal with Israel, here is what we know about the captives.

Based on interviews with relatives and Israeli media reports, AFP has confirmed the identities of 210 of the around 240 people abducted on October 7 during Hamas attacks on military posts, communities and a desert music festival.

The hostages, who are set for staggered release in return for a four-day truce and the release of Palestinian prisoners, are women and children and included both Israelis and foreigners.

The United States has said that three Americans, including three-year-old Abigail Mor Idan, will be among the first captives to be released starting Thursday.

“One or two” French hostages are also due for release, French lawmaker Meyer Habib told a French Jewish radio station.

Four female hostages have already been released by Hamas and one female soldier was rescued by Israeli forces.

Two others were found dead by Israeli forces in Gaza — 19-year-old soldier Noa Marciano and Yehudit Weiss, a 65-year-old former nurse.

– Baby, birthdays –
At least 35 of those taken hostage were children, with 18 of them aged 10 or under at the time of the Hamas attack.

One of the youngest hostages is Kfir Bibas, a boy who was just nine months old when gunmen snatched him from Nir Oz kibbutz near the Gaza border, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel and his parents Yarden and Shiri.

Shiri appears in a video from the day of the attack seen by the family, cradling her children in her arms with gunmen all around her.

Some of the children have had their birthdays in captivity. Campaigners held a birthday party in London last week for an Irish-Israeli girl, Emily Hand, who turned nine in captivity.

She had been on a sleepover at a friend’s house in Beeri kibbutz when she was snatched, her father said.

Yoni Asher, whose wife Doron, daughters Raz, four, and Aviv, two, and mother-in-law Efrat were snatched from Nir Oz kibbutz, has left his job as a property developer to devote all his time to bringing his family home.

They were seen in a video being taken away by militants in the back of a pick-up truck.

Twelve-year-old Eitan Yahalomi is one of at least three Israel-French children being held.

His uncle Ari Levi, who took part in a march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last week to press for the hostages’ release, vowed: “When Eitan comes home, I’ll buy him the best bike in the world.”

 

 

A man walks past a billboard bearing the portraits of Israeli hostages taken by Palestinian militants in the October 7 attack and calling for their release in Jerusalem on November 22, 2023. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

 

– Octogenarians and whole families –
At least 68 of those abducted were women, including Yaffa Adar, who was 85 when she was filmed being whisked away from Nir Oz kibbutz in what appeared to be a golf cart.

At least eight of the hostages are aged over 80.

Nine people were taken from a family in Nir Oz kibbutz, which had at least 71 of its around 400 residents abducted — the highest number for a single community.

Sharon Aloni Cunio, 34, her 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, Ariel’s partner Arbel Yahod and her brother Dolev 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 Netanyahu as Yelena Trupanov and Rimon Kirsht.

In the video, Aloni urged Netanyahu to agree a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians.

– Many nationalities –
Apart from Israel, 26 countries have citizens among the hostages, according to figures from the Israeli foreign ministry. Many are dual nationals.

Twenty-six Thais were abducted along with 21 Argentines, 18 Germans, 10 US citizens, seven French and seven Russians, according to figures provided by their governments.

– Proof of life –
Hamas 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 have not yet been identified.