The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has notified the families of 203 hostages in Gaza who were taken captive after the October 7 Hamas attack, the military said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the military could not be certain about the total number of hostages altough it had varying degrees of confidence in its assessment, reports CNN.
“The families of 203 abductees were notified. Of them, some are in high probability and others on medium or low probability,” he said, stressing that the number was not final.
Hagari further said that the military had also notified the families of 306 soldiers who have been killed since the massive Hamas assault.
Thursday’s announcement came only days after a Hamas official had claimed that there were 200 to 250 Israeli hostages in Gaza.
In a televised address on Monday, Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Hamas’s military wing Al-Qassam Brigades, said while the militant group was holding 200 hostages, “the rest are captured by other resistance factions in the Gaza Strip”, reports Xinhua news agency.
He said that they could not determine the exact number of hostages in the besieged enclave due to constant Israeli bombardment.
Obaida had further noted that foreigners were not prisoners in Gaza, and they will be released when “the opportunity arises on the ground”.
He asserted that the Al-Qassam is “committed” to protecting them. but warned that any foreign national serving with the Israeli military will be considered a “direct enemy”.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz had announced that two hostages captured by the Hamas were found dead.
In a post on X, he said: “We are devastated to announce that Noya and her grandmother Carmela’s bodies were discovered yesterday.Thank you to all of you who shared her story to help us bring her home. Our hearts are broken.”
The victims were identified as 80-year-old Carmela Dan and her granddaughter Noya (12). They were taken prisoner in Kibbutz Nir Oz, the BBC reported.
The Minister however, did not mention where the bodies were found.
Last week, Hamas released the first video of one of the hostages — Mia Schem, a 21-year-old French-Israeli woman.
In the video, Schem said she was injured and had been taken into Gaza. She begged to be returned home to her family.