For more than a month, concern has reigned over the fate of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip, captured by Hamas on October 7. Demanding “the immediate release of all hostages”, their families set off on Tuesday, November 14 in a march from Tel Aviv, which will take them on Saturday, November 18 in front of the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem. The anguish of the hostages’ relatives is increased by the persistence of numerous unknowns and by the unverifiable communications from Hamas, regularly announcing the death of captives in the bombings.
More than a month after October 7, the number of people detained in the Gaza Strip is not precisely known. Shortly after the attack, the figure of 130 hostages was mentioned: around thirty in the hands of the armed group Islamic Jihad, and around a hundred prisoners of Hamas. During a visit to Moscow in late October, an official from the Islamist group said other factions had also taken civilians hostage on October 7.
No details given by the Israeli authorities
On October 16, the Israeli army revised the estimated number of hostages upwards, speaking of 199 people captured during the assault. The same day, Hamas claimed that the initial number of hostages was “between 200 and 250”, including around 200 in his hands. At the beginning of November, the Israeli army mentioned “more than 240 people” removed. On November 2, she declared having informed the families of 242 hostages of the captivity of their loved ones. This Thursday, November 16, on France Inter, a spokesperson for the Israeli army spoke of 239 hostages.
No details were given by the Israeli authorities concerning the profile of those detained. On the other hand, certain media, such as the daily Haaretz, attempted to establish the list of people presumed detained. This census, incomplete, is not an official list. As of November 16, there were 201 people (five of whom were released). The rest breaks down as follows: more than thirty minors, including several babies, more than sixty women, and a hundred men. One of the women, pregnant at the time of her kidnapping, reportedly gave birth to her baby in captivity, according to a letter addressed by Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the Israeli Prime Minister, to the American first lady, Jill Biden.
Of the 201 people mentioned in the list of Haaretz, 191 are civilians, and only ten are military. According to information from the Israeli daily, nearly 70 hostages came from the Nir Oz kibbutz. Around thirty hostages came from that of Beeri. A little less than forty were reportedly kidnapped from the scene of the attacked techno festival. Around twenty were reportedly captured in the Kfar Aza kibbutz. Four reportedly came from the Bedouin village of Hura, and were taken hostage in the Holit kibbutz, where they worked.
The uncertain list of presumed hostages has evolved according to gradually amassed information. Untraceable since October 7, Lilach Kipnis, 60, and her husband Eviatar, 65, a couple from Beeri, were considered suspected hostages until their remains were finally identified at the morgue on October 17 and 23. october. Conversely, in early November, Israeli authorities claimed that Emily Hand, an 8-year-old girl from Beeri, who was presumed dead after the October 7 assault, could be alive and among those held in custody. Gaza.
Only five releases
To date, only five hostages have been released. In a statement published on October 20, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the release of the two American hostages, whom Hamas had announced it had released earlier in the day, citing reasons “humanitarian reasons”. They are Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie Shoshana Raanan, 17. October 23, once again in connection with “humanitarian reasons and health problems”, two Israeli women were released: Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85.
According to the Israeli army, a fifth person, soldier Ori Megidish, 18, was rescued on October 30 during a ground raid inside Gaza. If the Israeli authorities argue that she had “was kidnapped by the terrorist organization Hamas on October 7,” the information was denied by Hamas, believing that it had instead been held by civilians or an autonomous group in Gaza.
Hamas announces more than sixty hostages killed by Israeli strikes
A large part of the uncertainty concerns the deaths of some of the people detained. Hamas has regularly communicated on the death of hostages, each time presented as a result of Israeli bombings on Gaza. In total, according to the Islamist group, more than 60 hostages were killed.
On October 9, two days after the first Israeli strikes, the al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed that they had “caused the death of four prisoners”.
On October 13, these same brigades affirmed that “thirteen prisoners including foreigners” had been killed in five different locations in Gaza, targeted by Israeli warplanes.
On October 14, the same source announced the death of nine hostages, including four foreigners, killed by “strike on the places where the prisoners were held”.
On October 26, the military wing of Hamas announced that the total number of “Zionist hostages” You are “because of the Zionist bombings and massacres” was going to “nearly fifty”.
On October 31, Hamas reported that seven hostages, including “three holders of foreign passports”, had been killed in an Israeli bombardment on the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
On November 4, the armed wing of the movement claimed that a total of 60 Israeli hostages had been killed by IDF bombings since October 7.
On November 9, the al-Qassam Brigades said two Israeli soldiers held hostage were killed and injured, respectively, in an Israeli airstrike.
The death of a soldier was confirmed on Tuesday, November 14 by the Israeli army, the day after Hamas released a photo presenting this 19-year-old soldier, named Noa Marciano, as “killed by bombing” Israeli. The death of another hostage was confirmed at the end of October. It was Shani Louk. This 23-year-old German-Israeli young woman was kidnapped by Hamas while she was participating in the music festival targeted by the Islamist movement’s attack, and was presumed to be in captivity. On October 30, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced his death.
For the rest, it is impossible to have confirmation of the death of the hostages, or of their identities. “Until today, no one has met the hostages”, not even the Red Cross, confided Tuesday, November 14, the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eli Cohen, traveling to Geneva. And to affirm: “We have no proof of life.”
Rare evidence of life
The proof of life – at least public – was limited to a few rare videos. Hamas released the first images of a hostage in mid-October, those of a young woman speaking Hebrew, later identified as Mia Shem, a Franco-Israeli citizen kidnapped while participating in the “Tribe of Nova” music festival.
On October 30, a video released by the al-Qassam Brigades showed three women detained in the Gaza Strip, whose names were later revealed by the Israeli government: Yelena Trupanob, Danielle Aloni and Rimon Kirsht. In this sequence, probably produced under the duress of their captors, they called for an agreement to guarantee their release in exchange for that of Palestinian prisoners. This is the demand made for a month by the leaders of Hamas, who affirm that they are ready to carry out an exchange of prisoners.
For its part, Islamic Jihad published, on November 9, a video of two hostages, a woman in her seventies and a teenager, whom it claims to be holding in Gaza, saying it is ready to release them. “for humanitarian reasons when the security conditions on the ground are met”. The two hostages were identified as Hanna Katzir, 77, and Yagil Yaakov, 13, both from Kibbutz Nir Oz.
After the broadcast of these images, the NGO Human Rights Watch published a press release denouncing the use of hostages: “Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s practice of publicly broadcasting videos of Israeli hostages constitutes a form of inhumane treatment that amounts to a war crime”.
The NGO recalls that holding hostages is a serious violation of international law and calls on Hamas and Islamic Jihad to “immediately and unconditionally release all civilians in their custody and allow those still detained to communicate with their families by private means.”
Hostages at the heart of negotiations
For a month, Benjamin Netanyahu has been excluding, as he did on November 6 at the same time as he opened the way for “small tactical breaks”All “general ceasefire in Gaza without liberation” hostages.
On Monday, November 13, a Hamas spokesperson spoke of an agreement providing for the release of 50 hostages in exchange for 200 children and 75 women detained in Israeli prisons. Discussions around this agreement, carried out with the assistance of Qatar, have so far not been successful. According to Hamas, Israel systematically changed its conditions at the last minute, ultimately demanding the release of one hundred people.
Dozens of hostages are said to be foreign nationals (including a significant number of Thai workers) or dual nationals. Visiting Moscow in late October, Hamas officials told the Russian press that it considered all of its binational hostages to be Israelis, and would not release any of them until Israel agreed to a ceasefire. According to one of the Hamas officials interviewed, Russia, France, the United States, Spain and many other countries have called for the release of their detained citizens.
On Wednesday, November 15, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling in particular for the immediate release of the hostages. A resolution that should not have, lamented an Israeli representative to the United Nations, “no influence on terrorists”.
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