Noiya Sharabi, aged 16, and her sister Yahel disappeared after the Palestinian militant group attacked Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel after breaking through the border from Gaza on 7 October, killing some 1,400 people, including the girls’ British-born mother Lianne.
Yahel’s death was confirmed by her family last week. The Independent understands the family has now confirmed that Noiya has died.
“Noiya was clever, sensitive, fun and full of life – her smile lit up the room like a beacon,” they told the BBC, adding that she “embraced every opportunity to help others, particularly those less fortunate than she, and was a gifted student and linguist”.
“Most importantly, she was an amazing granddaughter, cousin and niece. We are heartbroken she has gone, but forever grateful she was here.”
The girls’ father Eli is still missing, while other relatives are said to be among the more than 200 people feared to have been kidnapped by Hamas, after the militants gunned down Israelis in their homes, as well as hundreds of revellers at a music festival.
Lianne, 48, first moved to Israel as a volunteer on a kibbutz when she was 19, before relocating there permanently, and UK-based relatives said the family visited at least once a year, according to the BBC.
It comes as thousands of people attended a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square on Sunday calling for the safe return of hostages by Hamas.
Many in the crowd chanted “bring them home” and held signs that said “release the hostages”, while others carried Israeli flags and placards showing the faces of those held captive.
Speaking at the rally, Ayelet Svatitzky said her brother Nadav Popplewell, 51, and their mother, Channah Peri, 79, were abducted by the militants on 7 October, while her 54-year-old brother was found dead behind his house the following day.
“It’s hard to put into words the horror and pain that engulfed me as I realised what was happening,” she said, adding: “These are crimes against humanity. They are an attempt to break the Jewish people and state, but instead they have brought us all together in solidarity.
“The world must hear our plea: release the hostages now. This is a human rights issue. My family should be with me now.”
David, a teacher from Leeds, said he was woken up at 6.30am on 7 October to the sound of rocket strikes and “shooting from all sides” in his kibbutz, with his eldest son and daughter also separately under attack with their families elsewhere.
He and his wife emerged from their bomb-proof room the following day to news that her sister had been “shot in the back and head from zero range”. As they fled their kibbutz, “there were bodies everywhere and cars riddled with bullets”, he recalled, adding: “I said to my wife, ‘Don’t look.’ But how could you not look? There’s nowhere, no place you can’t look. Death everywhere.”
Appealing to the British government, he said: “Bring back our families, our children.”
Introducing the speakers, Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl told the crowd: “Every day that they are kept captive is like a knife in our hearts,” adding: “Friends, we stand here today united to say ‘bring them home’. The people of Israel live.”