TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel has notified the families of 32 hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attack that their loved ones are deceased, according to reports. The Israeli military has compiled available intelligence indicating that more than a fifth of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza have died.
A confidential internal review leaked to the New York Times has reportedly concluded that at least 32 of the remaining 136 hostages captured by Hamas have died, with their families being informed. The fate of an additional 20 hostages is also in question, with unconfirmed intelligence suggesting they may have also perished during their captivity.
The Israeli military has initiated an investigation into dozens of incidents where Israeli soldiers may have violated international law governing conflict, particularly in incidents involving significant civilian casualties or the destruction of civilian infrastructure. The circumstances of the hostage deaths remain unclear, with Israeli authorities suggesting that many of those deaths occurred during Hamas’s mass incursion into southern Israel on October 7, during which 1,200 people were killed.
The disclosure that so many of the remaining hostages may be deceased, and in greater numbers than previously reported, is expected to intensify scrutiny of the Netanyahu government’s handling of the months-long hostage crisis, which has incited anger among many hostage families.
Negotiations for a second ceasefire deal have been hindered by the piecemeal emergence of information about those taken hostage, complicating the situation for the families involved.
As the investigation into potential violations of international humanitarian law is underway, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, visited Qatar seeking a new ceasefire and “an enduring end” to the Israel-Hamas war.
Blinken’s visit also comes amidst growing concerns in Egypt about Israel’s intentions to expand the combat in Gaza to areas on the Egyptian border, further escalating the already dire situation.
The disclosure of the hostages’ apparent deaths has raised further questions about the ongoing conflict and the handling of the remaining hostages by both sides. This latest development adds more complexity to an already volatile situation and underscores the urgency for a resolution to this long-standing crisis.