25% of Israeli hostages in Gaza are dead – IDF
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has confirmed that up to 25% of the remaining hostages thought to have been held by the Hamas militant group since its bloody October 7 incursion, are dead. However, the New York Times has reported, citing sources, that this number could be much higher.
In a statement on Tuesday, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that West Jerusalem had notified 31 families that “their loved ones who are hostages are no longer alive and we have confirmed their deaths.” He gave no details about how they lost their lives.
After a short-lived ceasefire deal in November that secured the release of dozens of Israeli hostages, Hamas is currently believed to be holding around 136 captives. Around 1,200 Israelis and more than 27,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of hostilities on October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack on the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, an earlier report by the New York Times, citing a confidential assessment, suggested that the confirmed death toll among Hamas-held hostages was at least 32 and possibly up to 50. It remains unclear what is behind the discrepancy with the official data.
However, the NYT also noted, citing four unnamed officials, that Israeli intelligence officers were also reviewing data indicating that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed. Two NYT sources added that some of the dead were killed inside Israel on October 7, but their deaths went unconfirmed because officials never found their bodies, and they were believed to have been taken hostage.
In mid-December, the Israeli military admitted that it had mistakenly killed three hostages in Gaza during a ground operation in the Palestinian enclave, which wreaked unprecedented havoc.
While Hamas has yet to comment on the latest IDF statement, it has frequently blamed Israeli airstrikes on Gaza for hostage deaths. In early November, the group claimed that 60 hostages had died as a result of Israeli bombing, with West Jerusalem officials insisting that Hamas bears the ultimate responsibility for any harm done to the prisoners.
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has insisted that he would continue the conflict with Hamas until the organization is destroyed, has come under relentless public pressure to do more to secure the release of Israeli hostages.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Israel have been in talks for months, mediated by Qatar, Egypt, and the US. In late January, the New York Times reported that the sides were close to an agreement that would suspend hostilities for about two months in exchange for the release of more than 100 hostages held by Hamas.