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NYT: More than one fifth of Israeli hostages in Gaza are dead, according to internal Israeli report

At least 32 of the 136 Israeli hostages held in Gaza for more than four months have died, NYT reports

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of Israelis held kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Feb. 3, 2024. (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The New York Times quoted an internal Israeli military report on Tuesday, claiming that at least one-fifth of the hostages held in Gaza are no longer alive. This is a higher estimate than the one publicly announced by Israeli authorities.  

According to a secret assessment reviewed by the NYT, at least 32 of the remaining 136 hostages in Gaza are dead. Their families have been informed by the IDF, according to four anonymous military sources.

The NYT report said the Israeli military is also assessing “unconfirmed intelligence” indicating that at least 20 other hostages may have also been killed. 

Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the report itself but noted that most of the deceased hostages were killed on Oct. 7, the day Hamas terrorists abducted at least 253 hostages into Gaza. 

The Israeli military stated it was “deploying all available resources to locate and retrieve as much information as possible regarding the hostages currently held by Hamas.”

The terror group that rules Gaza has also been holding four hostages since before the outbreak of the war. Two slain Israeli soldiers – Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – were killed during IDF Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and Hamas has been holding their bodies ever since. Two other citizens, Avera Mengistu – an Israeli of Ethiopian descent – and the Bedouin-Arab Israeli citizen, Hisham al-Sayed, are believed to be alive in Gaza.  

Since the beginning of the war, 110 hostages have been returned home alive. Most of them were released as part of a deal that was negotiated in November, which included the release of some 240 Palestinian prisoners who were jailed in Israel due to terrorist activities against Israel.

The IDF has retrieved the bodies of 11 hostages since the beginning of the war, according to the Israeli prime minister's office.

Families of the remaining Israeli hostages continue to urge the government to sign another deal with Hamas that will see the release of their loved ones, who have been in captivity for more than four months. They believe the release of the hostages should be Israel's top war goal, taking precedence over the elimination of Hamas leadership and infrastructure.

Israel’s War Cabinet has emphasized that the only way to promote another hostage deal is with heavy military pressure that will ultimately result in a diplomatic success. Talks between Israel and Hamas are currently being mediated with Qatar and Egypt, along with the involvement of the United States. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in Qatar and will is expected to arrive in Israel on Tuesday

Blinken said he believes another hostage release deal is “possible” in exchange for a truce in fighting.

His comment came after Qatar’s prime minister said Hamas has been "generally positive" about a deal that would involve a ceasefire. 

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined three prerequisites for a potential agreement with the Hamas terror organization.

He said that there won’t be a permanent pause in the fighting and that Israel will accomplish all of its war missions, namely: To destroy the Hamas terror organization, bring back all hostages and make sure that Gaza will never pose a terror threat to Israel again.

Netanyahu also emphasized that Israel will not release “thousands of terrorists” in exchange for hostages, nor will it withdraw all of the IDF troops completely from the Gaza strip. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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