‘Should these children be used as bargaining chips?’ Eylon Keshet, a relative of Kfir Bibas, told CNN while holding up photos of the boys
Ten-month-old Kfir Bibas – the youngest hostage to be held in Gaza – has been killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the armed wing of Hamas.
The al Qassam Brigade claims Kfir, his four-year-old brother Ariel and mother Shiri, were all killed in an Israeli bombing in the strip before the ceasefire began on November 24.
The claims have not been independently verified, but are being investigated by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
IDF representatives have said they have spoken with the Bibas family, and are “with them at this difficult time”.
Adding that it holds “Hamas wholly responsible for the security of all the hostages in the Gaza Strip”.
The Bibas family released a statement following the claims from Hamas, it read: “Our family has learned of Hamas’ latest claims. We are waiting for the information to be confirmed and hopefully refuted by military officials.
“We thank the people of Israel for their warm support, but kindly request privacy during this difficult time. Thank you very much.”
The Israeli government claimed on Monday that the Bibas family were no longer being held by Hamas, and were instead being held by another militant group, further complicating release efforts.
Yesterday, a relative of the 10-month-old revealed the family’s ongoing torment more than 50 days since he and his four-year-old brother were taken from their home in southern Israel.
“We are really, really worried about him,” cousin of the family Eylon Keshet told CNN, holding a photograph of the baby boy.
“We are not sure if he can make it. Every day that he is staying there is a real, real danger to his life.”
“He needs baby formula,” he added through tears, explaining that they are also extremely worried about Ariel’s health.
“Ariel is a fragile child and has several medical conditions,” he said, saying that the four-year-old has a skin condition which needs treatment.
“He is such a lively child, and he really loves cars and tractors,” he added.
Kfir, Ariel, their mother, Shiri, and, it is understood, their father Yarden were all kidnapped from Nir Oz, an Israeli kibbutz that was devastated when it came under attack by Hamas militants on October 7. Their abduction was filmed, and the video of the family’s ordeal became one of the most horrifying moments of the attack.
For Shiri’s cousin, Yifat Zailer, the days and nights have been “emotional and stressful.”
“The little hope that we have gives us the strength to carry on,” she told CNN.
“(We are) pleading and asking for the freedom of our family.”
Every day, Ms Zailer hopes to see her family’s names on the list of hostages to be released.
“There’s a 10-month-old baby that is still being held captive. His life is at risk. No child should be pawned or held as leverage,” she said.
“Hopefully this will be over soon, and we can somehow go on to repair our shattered, completely shattered, life here.”
The attackers murdered more than a quarter of the Nir Oz community, firing at people’s homes and taking hostages.
Some 1,200 people, most civilians, were killed by Hamas across southern Israel on October 7.
Their grandparents were killed in the attack, Mr Keshet added.
The boys’ father was hit by a hammer, his sister has said, and there is no further information available on his current condition or whereabouts.
“It doesn’t make any sense that anyone can let this keep going,” Mr Keshet continued.
“It’s inhumane. It’s so scary.”
Hamas is believed to have held more than 240 hostages in Gaza prior to the releases negotiated with Israel.
Under the breakthrough temporary ceasefire agreement, groups of Israeli citizens and other nationals – mostly women and children, in line with the terms of the agreement – have been freed every day since last Friday.
More than 15,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 children, have since been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive in response to the Hamas terror attacks of October 7, according to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank, which draws its data from Hamas-run health authorities in the Gaza Strip.
As part of the ceasefire deal Israel has released Palestinian women and children detainees from its prisons, many of whom have never been charged or sentenced.
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