Hamas says 10-month-old hostage killed along with his brother and mother

A 10-month-old boy, his four-year-old brother and their mother who were kidnapped by Hamas were killed in “previous Israeli air strikes” on the Gaza strip, Hamas’s armed wing has claimed.

Kfir Bibas was kidnapped, along with his older brother Ariel and his parents Yarden, 34, and Shiri, 32, from Kibbutz Nir Oz after Hamas massacred up to 1,200 Israelis on 7 October.

The Israeli military told The Independent it was checking the claim made by Al-Qassam Brigades and it would continue to support the Bibas family during this “difficult time”. It is not clear when they were killed.

“IDF representatives spoke with the Bibas family following the recent reports and are with them at this difficult time. The IDF is assessing the accuracy of the information,” it said.

It comes just a day after Kfir’s family issued an urgent plea for his “immediate release” amid fears he was missing without proper food or formula.

Ofri Bibas, Kfir’s aunt, said before the Hamas claim: “He can’t stay there any more. He is a 10-month-old baby. We don’t know if he is getting formula. There isn’t much food.

“Every day there is a risk for their mental and physical condition. They must be released. They are children. They are not supposed to be hostages.”

Aylon Keshet, who is Mr Bibas’s cousin, added that the family were living through a “nightmare” and didn’t know anything about their condition.

Kfir with his mother, Shiri, who Hamas said was also dead (PA)
Kfir with his mother, Shiri, who Hamas said was also dead (PA)

He said: “These are real people with real lives. Please do not let them stay for another day. Do not let Hamas keep using them as bargaining chips.

“We really don’t know anything. We are in the dark here. We don’t know anything about their wellbeing or condition. This is a nightmare scenario for us. The uncertainty is really hard. We are worried sick about them.”

It’s thought that so far, 63 Israelis and 20 foreigners have been released by Hamas since the ceasefire began. Up to 180 Palestinians have been freed by Israel.

On Wednesday evening, a Palestinian official said the handover of more Israeli hostages by Hamas was under way.

Two Russian-Israeli women freed by Hamas have returned to Israel, the military said. The release was expected to be followed by the swap of 10 more hostages in Gaza for 30 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Hamas gunmen seized 240 Israelis in their raid in October.

Qatari officials said the success of the two-day extension to the initial truce would be vital in locating missing Israeli hostages.

Ariel Bibas, 4, was kidnapped by Hamas with his younger brother, mother and father on 7 October (PA)
Ariel Bibas, 4, was kidnapped by Hamas with his younger brother, mother and father on 7 October (PA)

“Some of them are not even with the other armed factions, they are with laypeople,” Qatar’s foreign ministry spokesperson Dr Majed Al-Ansari told The Independent.

An IDF spokesperson told The Independent: “During the Hamas massacre of 7 October, the Bibas family, including 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother Ariel Bibas, and their mother Shiri Bibas, were kidnapped alive into Gaza. The barbarism and cruelty of Hamas is on full display to the world.

“Hamas is wholly responsible for the security of all hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas must be held accountable. Hamas’ actions continue to endanger the hostages, which include nine children. Hamas must immediately release our hostages.

“The IDF, along with other security agencies, will continue to accompany the Bibas family, as well as all families of the hostages and missing persons.”