Family Of Last Child Hostages In Gaza Await Their Return

Hamas has said that Kfir, Ariel and Shira Bibas were killed during an Israeli bombardment (File)

Yosi Shnaider watched a home video on his phone from his apartment near Tel Aviv.

In the video, a smiling, red-headed baby sits in a bouncy chair. His big brother, just a few years older with the same fiery hair, leans into the frame and kisses the head of the baby, who then lets out a joyful giggle.

They are 10-month-old Kfir and 4-year-old Ariel Bibas, the last, according to Israeli officials, of the young children still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“Ariel and Kfir are the last ones, the last ones. Kfir is the smallest baby in captivity, the youngest. And he’s got left behind,” said Shnaider, a cousin of the boys’ mother, Shiri Bibas, who is also in captivity along with her husband Yarden.

Hamas infiltrators seized the Bibas family, along with more than 200 other people, during the October 7 killing spree through southern Israeli towns that sparked the devastating war in Gaza.

More than 100 hostages were freed in a week-long truce that ended on Friday, but the Bibas family – two children and their parents – were not.

“Some of the kidnapped people, when they came back they told stories about the conditions they were held (in), one of the things that the kids said is that they always asked them to be quiet,” Shnaider said.

“And I’m thinking to myself, a young baby, small baby like Kfir, is crying. He has his first teeth going out right now, he’s crying. So, how do you keep a baby from crying? What do you need to do to do that?”

Hamas has said that Kfir, Ariel and Shira Bibas were killed during an Israeli bombardment, but the Israeli military said the information was not verified. Hamas also released a video of the father Yarden, sitting in front of a white wall in captivity, choking back sobs, begging that his family be buried in Israel.

Israel’s military called the video a “cruel documentation” and “an act of psychological terror.”

Shnaider said it shows Yarden, who appears to have lost a lot of weight, in a grave situation.

“But you see that he’s alive. So again, there’s a light,” he said.

After two months in captivity, their age and ginger hair have caused the Bibas children to stand out among the scores of hostages.

“There is an orange light, a very strong and bright orange light, that is glowing somewhere inside my heart and my head, and I’m 100% sure that they are alive and that they will come back.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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