Half of hostages held in Gaza may have already died in captivity – report

Just 60-70 of the 134 Israelis held captive in Gaza are still believed to be alive, according to report.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel estimates that roughly half of the Israeli hostages held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip have likely perished in captivity, according to a report by Ha’aretz.

Thus far, 112 hostages have been returned to Israel, including 105 freed during a truce in the last week of November, three rescued by the IDF, and four more released by Hamas.

There are 134 Israelis still being held in Gaza, though it remains unclear how many are alive, with 36 confirmed to be dead.

According to a source familiar with Israel’s estimates on the number of surviving hostages, only half of those still in captivity are believed to be a alive, a significant drop from last month.

In February, Israeli officials told relatives of the hostages that roughly 90 of the 134 captives were believed to be alive, though 20 of them were in serious and potentially life-threatening condition.

Now, Israel is quietly estimating that only 60 to 70 of the captives are still alive.

“I hope I’m mistaken,” the source told Ha’aretz, “but the number may be even lower.

Israel and Hamas are still in talks for a possible hostage deal, which according to recent reports would include the freeing of roughly 40 captives, in exchange for ceasefire and the early release of 700-800 jailed terrorists.

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Hamas has thus far refused Israel’s offer of a six-week ceasefire, and instead demanded that the truce be permanent, marking an end of the current war, and be accompanied by a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip – demands that Israel has repeatedly stated are non-starters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with relatives of some of the hostages on Thursday, telling them Israel would move forward with the planned ground operation in Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza.

On Sunday, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted the families of the abducted female soldiers at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.