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Swap Deal: Despite swap deal, baby remains hostage; kin plead for his return

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JERUSALEM: Ten-month-old Kfir Bibas has spent over 50 days of his young life in captivity in Gaza and, according to Israel, has been handed over by Hamas to another Palestinian militant group in a possible complication of efforts to free him. On Tuesday, his extended family pleaded for him, his parents and brother to be released.
Hamas infiltrators seized babyKfir, four-year-old Ariel and their parents Yarden and Shiri after bursting into southern Israeli towns on October 7.Kfir is the youngest of the 240 hostages Israel says were captured. Video of the incident showed a terrified Shiri clutching the children in a blanket as they were bundled into captivity. Another clip showed Yarden with a head injury from hammer blows, Ofri Bibas, Yarden’s sister, said.
With his red hair and toothless smile, Kfir’s ordeal has become for many a symbol of the brutality of Hamas’ attack. With most other young hostages already released, Kfir’s fate and that of his 4-year-old brother are now a rallying cry for Israelis. “There is no precedent… for a baby who was kidnapped when he was 9 months old,” Eylon Keshet, Kfir’s father’s cousin, said. “Is baby Kfir the enemy of Hamas?”
Hamas has freed 50 Israeli women and children hostages, along with 19 foreign hostages, since Friday as part of the truce in which Israel has released 150 Palestinian prisoners. Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said that Kfir, Ariel and their parents were being held by a Palestinian faction other than Hamas. Another military spokesperson said the family was in the area of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Hamas has not given the locations or condition of the estimated 160 people it still holds. Jimmy Miller, a cousin, told Channel 12 TV: “Kfiris a child who still doesn’t even know to say ‘mommy’. He still isn’t eating solid food. He doesn’t have the ability to survive there.”



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