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Hamas’s hostages: What to know about Israelis abducted by the militant group

Potentially hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians have been taken hostage by Hamas

Tom Watling
Monday 16 October 2023 10:06 BST
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Hamas fighters attack Israeli music festival

Fears are growing over the safety of dozens of hostages being held in Gaza after attacks by Hamas over the weekend.

Israel’s troops are battling to clear out Hamas gunmen more than two days after they carried out the deadly rampage that has left hundreds of people dead.

Hostages, including members of the Israeli Defence Forces as well as civilians, some of whom were taken from a nearby music festival on Saturday, are currently being held in the heavily-militarised Gaza area.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson, said it was an “unprecedented [moment] in our history that we have so many Israeli nationals in the hands of a terrorist organisation”.

Below we look at everything we know about the hostage situation.

What has happened?

On Saturday, members of the al Qassam brigades crossed into Israel via land, sea and air, flooding into nearby civilian towns and engaging in violent clashes with the IDF.

In a post on Telegram, a Brigades spokesperson said they had captured “dozens of (Israeli) officers and soldiers” in the first day of fighting.

“We bring good news to our (Palestinian) prisoners and our people that the al Qassam Brigades have dozens of captured (Israeli) officers and soldiers in their hands,” the group’s spokesman Abu Obaida said. “They have been secured in safe places and resistance tunnels.”

Noa Argamani was filmed being seized from the festival on a motorbike (Telegram)
Avinatan Or was filmed as he was kidnapped by Hamas alongside girlfeind Ms Argamani (Sourced)

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari later confirmed Hamas fighters had taken hostages from the border community of Be’eri and the town of Okafim, 20 miles east of Gaza.

He described these as the “main focal points” of the unfolding crisis. Local Channel 12 also reported that infiltrators had taken hostages in Netiv HaAsara.

A second Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad, said it was also holding more than 30 captives.

The hostages are not only soldiers. Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, the military’s international spokesperson reported later in the weekend that “civilians, children and grandmothers” were among those being held captive.

An unknown number of civilians who had been attending a music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, close to the Gaza border, are also believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas.

One video shows a woman attending the festival being hoisted onto the back of a motorcycle and driven away by Hamas fighters.

Other footage geolocated to inside Gaza showed a barefoot woman being pulled from the trunk of a jeep by a gunman. Her face is bleeding and her wrists appear to be tied behind her back.

What does Hamas want and where are the hostages now?

Understanding where those hostages have been taken is difficult. Miles of underground tunnels built by Hamas run beneath the enclave, many of which are unmapped.

Other hostages might be kept overground with other fighters. They will not be immediately distinguishable from the Palestinian civilians and Hamas fighters around them.

This difficulty is one of the main issues facing Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu when considering a possible military invasion. The risk of killing Israeli civilians remains incredibly high.

What Hamas’ intentions are for the hostages is also unclear, though it is likely they have been taken to deter an Israeli invasion of the enclave.

26-year-old Briton Jake Marlowe is among those believed to have been taken (Jake Marlowe/Facebook)

Who has been taken?

There is no definitive list of who has been taken hostage by Hamas. The Israeli forces are being careful not to reveal exactly how many they believe to have been taken.

An IDF spokesperson Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said last night: “I can only say that we are talking about many many Israelis … Women, children, infants, elderly and even disabled people.”

However, families have shared their concerns for missing loved ones who could either be held captive or killed following the attacks.

Among those who have yet to be found is 26-year-old Briton Jake Marlowe, who had been providing security at the music festival near the enclave.

Kim Damti, an Irish-Israeli woman, was last in contact with family on Saturday morning (Sourced)

Another Briton, photographer Dan Darlington who was visiting from his home in Berlin, Germany, is also missing.

Irish-Israeli citizen Kim Damti, 22, is another young woman among those who have yet to be found. Her mother last spoke to her at 6.30am local time on Saturday.

She was last seen at a party in southern Israel the night before. Ms Damti’s brother instructed his sister to take shelter but the family has not heard from her since.

Shani Louk, a German tatto artist, was captured by Hamas (Sourced)

The woman seen being taken away from the music festival on the back of a motorbike has been identified as Noa Argamani.

Her boyfriend Avinatan Or was also filmed being apprehended and being made to walk with his hands behind his back.

A German-Israeli national, Shani Louk, has been identified as another hostage. A video showed her unconscious at the festival being displayed by armed militants shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Mexico’s foreign minister Alicia Barcena said on Sunday she believed two of their nationals, a man and a woman, had been taken hostage. At least three Brazilian nationals are also missing, according to Brazilian authorities.

On Sunday evening, Israelis whose family members are either missing or have been taken hostage held a joint news conference.

For many, they only found out their friends and relatives had been taken when they saw videos posted by Hamas on social media and through WhatsApp groups.

One father and husband, Yoni Asher, said he found out about his family being kidnapped when he saw a video of a gunman seizing his wife and two small daughters.

“My two little girls, they’re only babies. They’re not even five-years-old and three-years-old,” Mr Asher said.

Another father, Uri David, said he had been on the phone with his two daughters, Tair and Odaya, before they were suddenly cut off.

“I heard shooting, shouting in Arabic, I told them to lie on the ground and hold hands,” Mr David said.

“I am asking for the whole world to see what I am going through. We have to bring the children home – and as fast as possible.”

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