JERUSALEM, Nov 30 — Israel’s army said yesterday it was investigating a report by Hamas’s armed wing that a 10-month-old baby hostage, his four-year-old brother and their mother had all been killed in Gaza.
The military was “assessing the accuracy of the information”, it said in a statement.
“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip,” it added. “Hamas’s actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children.”
The Bibas family are among the highest-profile hostages seized in the Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7, due to the age of baby Kfir.
The statement from the Israeli military came after the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced that Kfir, his brother Ariel and their mother Shiri had been killed in an Israeli bombing in Gaza before the current pause in fighting went into effect.
It made no mention of the boys’ father Yarden.
Hamas official and former Gaza health minister Bassem Naim said later yesterday at a press conference in Cape Town that the three family members were dead.
“We have confirmed two to three weeks ago that 60 Israelis have been killed under Israeli bombardment and are still under the rubble,” Naim said.
“The woman and her two children are among them, I can confirm that.”
So far, there has been no verification of Hamas’s tally of Israeli hostages killed.
A statement released on behalf of relatives by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said they could only wait for further information.
“Our family has learned of Hamas’s latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials,” they said.
Images of the baby’s kidnapping from Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel have become one of the symbols of the deadly assault.
The images showed the mother, her face contorted with anguish, holding her two little red-headed boys wrapped in a blanket against her.
Their father was also seen in photographs with his head covered in blood being taken by armed Hamas militants towards the Gaza Strip.
The family were being held by a Palestinian faction other than Hamas, army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a briefing a few days ago.
Yarden’s sister Ofri Bibas Levy told AFP at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Tuesday the family’s fate was “directly in the hands of Hamas”.
“Hamas took them and Hamas is required to bring them back now,” she said.
Dana Siton, Shiri’s sister, added that their lives were in “immediate danger... each passing day endangers them”.
Nutritionists interviewed in Israeli media have highlighted the risks of captivity for a baby of 10 months, an age when children are in the process of adapting to solid food.
In one previous case, Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group allied with Hamas, has announced the death of a hostage who was later released alive. — AFP