After the joy of the liberations, the families of the hostages are in mourning. The Israeli army confirmed the death of five captive hostages in the Gaza Strip, its spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, announced on Friday. The latter specified that the IDF had informed the families. “In recent days, the Israeli army and police informed the families of hostages Eliyahu Margalit (75 years old), Maya Goren (56 years old), Ronen Engel (54 years old) and Arié Zalmanovich (86 years old) of their deaths,” he said during a press briefing.
These four Israelis all resided or worked on the Nir Oz kibbutz. Arié Zalmanovich even contributed to the creation of this village located near the border with the Gaza Strip.
“A committee of experts from the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Forensic Medicine, the Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Affairs established their death on the basis of conclusions (of an investigation) and information from intelligence,” explained the IDF spokesperson. Furthermore, “during a joint operation with Shin Beth (the internal security service), based on specific information, we brought back the body of hostage Ofir Zarfati for burial in Israel », added Daniel Hagari.
Still uncertainty around the Bibas family
Of the approximately 240 people kidnapped on October 7 during the unprecedented deadly Hamas attack in southern Israel, then taken to the Gaza Strip, 137 are still being held there, Israeli authorities announced earlier. “136 hostages, including 17 women and children” are still being held there, said the army spokesperson.
He also repeated that Hamas’ allegations about the death of Shiri Bibas and her two children, Ariel, 4 years old, and Kfir, 10 months old – the youngest of the hostages – “had not been confirmed”. The Islamist movement says all three were killed in an Israeli bombing before the seven day truce in the war, which shattered on Friday morning. “The Bibas family, the mother and her children, were supposed to return to Israel and Hamas chose not to,” explained Daniel Hagari, regarding the daily agreement to exchange hostages from Gaza to Palestinian detainees that accompanied the truce.
This agreement allowed the release of 80 hostages from Gaza, mainly women and minors, Israeli or binational, compared to that of 240 detainees in Israeli prisons. Twenty-five other hostages were released from Gaza outside of the agreement.