HAMAS has offered to release three bodies following their claim that baby Kfir and his family were killed.
It is a fresh blow for the shattered family of the missing 10-month old, his 4-year-old brother, Ariel, and their mother, Shiri, as their agonising wait for answers continues.
Hamas has claimed the 10-month-old Kfir, his brother Ariel. 4, and mother Shiri, 32, are all dead[/caption]
Their devastated relatives still have no idea if they are ‘dead or alive’[/caption]
Hamas claimed yesterday that the three members of the Bibas family were killed in Israeli air strikes before even the ceasefire began last Friday.
Israel said it was investigating their terror group’s claims, which remain unverified.
Still holding onto hope the three are still alive, their relatives said they were waiting for the allegations to be “refuted military officials”.
However, today Hamas appeared to suggest they would hand over their bodies to secure a longer ceasefire.
Early this morning, the temporary truce was secured for one more day only minutes before it was due to expire.
Up until the extension was agreed, Hamas was blaming Israel for the possible end to the ceasefire.
In a statement, Hamas accused Israel of “refusing to receive seven women and children detained today and the bodies of three of the same category of detainees who were killed as a result of the Zionist bombing of Gaza”.
Their vague claim does not specifically mention whose bodies they are – but fears are growing that they were alluding to Shiri Bibas and her two infant sons.
Due to mounting international pressure to reveal their fates, Hamas could be hoping to use the bodies as leverage in a hostage-prisoner swap and possible further extension of the truce.
In what appears to be a response to this, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the ceasefire agreement would only hold for “living hostages”.
Mark Regev said Israel’s position was “crystal clear”.
“Every day, we agreed to an extension for the release of 10 hostages, 10 living hostages,” he told CNN.
On Monday, the IDF revealed that Hamas “no longer had control” of the Bibas hostages as they had been handed over to another terrorist faction inside Gaza.
The devestated family accused Hamas of blocking their release and using Israel’s youngest hostage as a “trophy”, trading him as “loot”.
The Bibas family have become a symbol of Hamas’s cruelty and Israeli suffering in the wake of their October 7 massacres that saw 1,200 slaughtered and some 240 hostages dragged into Gaza.
Kfir, Ariel and Shiri, 32, were filmed being snatched by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Oz during their bloody attack on southern Israel.
Their father, Yarden, 34, was also taken and has not been heard from them since.
A video of Shiri’s despairing face as she clung to her two red-haired boys was one of the most haunting scenes from October 7.
Yesterday, Shiri’s cousin Yifat Zailer said the wait for answers has been “brutal”, adding that she was in total disbelief that a baby could be used in their “psychological games”.
“We reach a dead end every time we try to figure out why Hamas is having so much trouble getting them back or whether that means if they’re alive or not.”
Yifat continued: “It’s amazing that a baby became…a winning card or a trophy holding him hostage like this to get more arms or, I don’t know, fuel for their missile launchers.”
“I can’t stop thinking about Kfir,” she said, “You know, if we wait another day, maybe we will lose him.”
It comes as two gunmen open fire at a packed bus station in Jerusalem killing three people this morning.
Officials said the victims included a 24-year-old woman, a 73-year-old man while another eight people were wounded in the attack.
It came only minutes after the Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement was extended.
The two gunmen, reportedly brothers, were shot down dead at the scene by civilians and Israel identified them as Hamas members.
Last night, the sixth swap of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinian prisoners saw 10 Israeli women and children, two Russians and four Thai nationals released.
A fearless Israeli hostage was filmed staring down her gun-toting Hamas captor as she was released to the Red Cross in Gaza.
Rimon Kirsht, 36, stood tall and defiant in the moments before she finally reached safety.
Now, it should hold for one more day.
Prolonging the truce will see 10 more Israeli hostages released and allow more aid to reach bomb-blitzed Gaza before Israel begins its final showdown with the terror group in the south.
Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to resume the war with full force as soon as the truce expired.
“From the beginning of the war, I set three goals: the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our abductees, and to ensure that Gaza will never again be a threat to Israel.
“These three goals remain in place.”
“There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end,” he added.
However, Israel is facing mounting international pressure to spare southern Gaza a devastating ground offensive like the one that has demolished much of the north.
The IDF’s next assumed target is Gaza’s second largest city of Khan Younis, which has become a giant refuge for displaced Palestinians escaping the fighting.
The city has swelled to twice its normal size of 200,000, with most crammed into makeshift shelters and camps.
Israel believes Hamas will make its final stand in Khan Younis after becoming a hiding spot for “Gaza’s Bin Laden”, Yahya Sinwar, and other terror chiefs.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry estimates 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory pounding of the enclave, while three out of every four Gazans have been driven from their homes.
Palestinians look out at the rubble and ruin of Gaza[/caption]