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12:36 pm ET, November 29, 2023

Israel estimates that Hamas claims that the younger hostages and family members are no longer alive

From CNN’s Eyad Kourdi, Jeremy Diamond and Tamar Michaelis

The Bipass family is pictured in this undated family handbook photo. Kaffir, ten months, Ariel, 4, and their parents, Shiri Bibas, and presumably their father, Yarden, were all abducted from the Israeli kibbutz, which was destroyed on October 7 when it was attacked by Hamas militants.

Courtesy Maurice Schneider

The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday Assessing the Hamas claim The youngest Israeli hostage, 10-month-old Kafir Bibas, his brother and his mother are no longer alive.

Hamas’s armed wing said earlier on Wednesday, without providing evidence, that Kafir, his four-year-old brother Ariel and their mother Shiri were killed in an Israeli airstrike. An armed group called the Al-Qassam Brigades said it had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombardment.

The IDF responded with a statement saying they were “evaluating the accuracy of the information.”

The army said it had spoken to relatives of the Bibas family and was “with them at this difficult time”.

“Hamas is fully responsible for the safety of all hostages in the Gaza Strip. Hamas must take responsibility. Hamas’ actions put the hostages, including nine children, at risk. Hamas must release our hostages immediately,” the IDF said.

A statement issued by Bipass’s family said:

“Our family is aware of the latest claims by Hamas. We await information to be confirmed and confidently denied by military officials. We thank the people of Israel for their kind support, but request privacy during this difficult time.”

Jimmy Miller, a relative of Shiri Bibas, told Israel’s Channel 12 that “Hamas must return them alive to us,” adding that “we don’t care if they transfer them to someone else or to another organization, they have the exclusive responsibility to bring them back to us alive and well.” ”

Minutes after the Hamas claim emerged, a senior Israeli official who was holding a briefing at the time said, “I believe it’s not true,” and “we have no indication that they were murdered.”

IDF Chief Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said earlier in the week that the IDF did not believe the boys and their mother were in the hands of Hamas.

There has been no Israeli bombing of Gaza since the ceasefire began on Friday morning.

Kfir, Ariel and Shiri Bibas, and presumably their father Yarden, were all abducted from the Israeli kibbutz Nir Oz, which was devastated when it was attacked by Hamas militants on October 7.

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