The death toll of the unprovoked attack on Israel by the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist group on Saturday continues to rise with over 1,400 Israelis killed. While the large-scale, brutal slaughter of Israeli civilians and military personnel have been devastating, Hamas terrorists also kidnapped at least 245 Israelis and other foreign nationals in the criminal assault.
Here is what is known about the people taken hostage on October 7, the history of Hamas’ hostage-taking, and how Israel has responded in the past.
How many hostages does Hamas have?
It is believed that at least 245 people are being held hostage by Hamas.
Babies, children, women, the elderly, and the disabled were among those taken hostage, according to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
“These are numbers that were up until now unimaginable,” said Conricus. “This will shape the future of this war.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was responsible for their care and well-being and Israel would “settle the score with anyone who harms them.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed terror group based in Gaza, claims that it is holding more than 30 Israeli hostages, the terror group’s leader Ziyad Nakaleh said. Hamas has also threatened to kill a civilian hostage every time Israel targets civilians in their homes in Gaza “without warning.”
On October 16, Hamas released its first video of a hostage, Israeli-French citizen Mia Schem. Mia was shown lying on a bed with her right arm being bandaged, while she pleaded to be returned to her family. Mia was captured by Hamas terrorists while attending the music festival where over 260 concertgoers were killed by terrorists.
On October 20, two Israeli-American hostages were released by Hamas, Judith, 59, and Natalie Raanan,17.
On October 23, two additional hostages were released, Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85. Both were abducted from their homes in Kibbutz Nir Oz. Their husbands reportedly remain in Gaza.
On October 30, Ori Magdish, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, was rescued by Israeli special forces on Monday. The soldier is in good health and met with her family, according to the IDF.
What is Israel and the U.S. Doing to Release the Hostages?
Hamas has demanded that Israel release some 6,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisoners in exchange for the release of all the hostages.
Israeli and American officials have been working closely with Qatar, a key intermediary with Hamas, to negotiate the release of the hostages. According to Axios, Mossad Director David Barnea visited Qatar and met with senior officials to discuss their efforts to secure the release. The Biden administration has also been in close contact with the Qatari government to secure the release of American hostages.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza. The Israeli leader promised to exhaust every option to bring them home.
On October 30, Hamas released a video of three hostages: Yelena Tropenov, Daniel Aloni, and Rimon Kirsht. In the video, Aloni called on Netanyahu to free them and release Palestinian prisoners. Netanyahu’s office called the video “cruel Hamas-ISIS psychological warfare” and that the Israeli leader is “doing everything to bring all the hostages home.”
See the rest of the article and key points at American Jewish Committee.