More Than 20% of Israeli Hostages Still in Gaza Are Dead

Israel says families have been informed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2024 12:30 AM CST
More Than 20% of Israeli Hostages Still in Gaza Are Dead
Israelis block a highway as they demand the release of the hostage from Hamas captivity during a rally in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Of the 136 Israeli hostages not yet freed by Hamas, Israeli intelligence officers say at least 30 of them are dead, most of those killed October 7 during the initial Hamas attack. Hamas is also still holding the bodies of two Israelis who were killed during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. In a statement Tuesday, however, the Israeli government put the number of dead hostages in Gaza at 31, a discrepancy that the New York Times reports could not be immediately reconciled. "We have informed 31 families that their captured loved ones are no longer among the living and that we have pronounced them dead," the military's chief spokesperson says. Per the Times of Israel, Israel Defense Forces is currently assessing "unconfirmed intelligence" that another 20 hostages may also be dead.

The news came as Hamas also gave what Qatar's prime minister referred to as a "generally positive" response to Israel's latest ceasefire proposal, the Guardian reports. Israel reportedly put forward the idea of a 40-day pause in fighting and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages also being released. The first hostages to be released under the proposed deal would be women, children, and those who are ill or elderly. Bodies of hostages who have died would be released during a later phase. However, Hamas is still reportedly pushing for a permanent ceasefire, and Axios reports that while the official response from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is one of optimism, President Biden said Tuesday that Hamas' response "seems to be a little over the top." (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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