The three, residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz, an Israeli community very close to Gaza, were taken captive and taken to Gaza along with the father of the family

Hamas announces the death of three Israeli hostages, two children and their mother, by shelling

AFP - Un combatiente de Hamás hace guardia mientras un vehículo de la Cruz Roja transporta a rehenes recién liberados en Rafah, en el sur de la Franja de Gaza, el 28 de noviembre de 2023
photo_camera AFP - A Hamas fighter stands guard as a Red Cross vehicle transports newly freed hostages in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 28 November 2023.

The Al Qasam Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas, announced the death of three Israeli hostages of the Argentine-Israeli Bibas family, a ten-month-old baby, his older brother and his mother, due to "previous shelling" of Gaza by the Israeli army. 

"Three Zionist detainees were killed as a result of earlier Zionist shelling (by Israel) on the Gaza Strip," Al Qasam said in a statement, which identified the deceased as Shiri Silverman Bibas, mother of ten-month-old Kfir Bibas and his four-year-old brother Ariel. 

The three, residents of Kibbutz Nir Oz, an Israeli community very close to Gaza, were taken captive and taken to Gaza along with the family's father, Yarden Bibas, during the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, which left at least 1,200 dead and more than 240 people taken hostage in Gaza. 

These days, following the release of 81 hostages - 61 Israelis and 20 foreigners - as part of the exchange of captive children and women for Palestinian prisoners in parallel to the Gaza truce, there was controversy over the fact that the children and mother of the Bibas family had not been released, Kfir being the youngest of all the hostages. 

A few days ago, other relatives of the Bibas family said they feared for their health and called for their release in the extension of the temporary ceasefire in place since Friday. 

According to the Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman, Avichai Andraee, the family was initially abducted by Hamas but was transferred to another Palestinian armed group, which reportedly held them in the Khan Younis area. 

"All the other children have now been released. We don't know where they are being held" or "anything about their condition", Ofri Bibas, sister of the father, Yarden, and aunt of the children, told a press conference. 

As part of the hostages-for-prisoners swap deal still in force on Wednesday, 10 Israeli captives are expected to be released this afternoon in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners, 15 women and 15 children. 

The truce, which has been extended for six days, is due to expire tonight, although negotiations are underway for a further extension. 

The Israeli army reported that it has informed the Bibas family of the Hamas publication, but has not yet been able to corroborate the veracity of the information

"The Hamas terrorist organisation continues to act in a cruel and inhumane manner," a military spokesman said, noting that all responsibility for the safety of the abductees "rests squarely with Hamas". 

The army recalled that Hamas is still holding nine children captive and demanded that the group "return them immediately to Israel". 

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