The Israel Defense Forces say an Israeli hostage was killed in Gaza during an attempt to rescue him from Hamas forces in December, local media reported Wednesday.
The IDF reportedly notified Sahar Baruch’s family this week. They said it is unclear whether Baruch was killed by Israeli forces or Hamas, despite saying on December 9 that Baruch “was killed by the terrorist organization Hamas.”
Even then, however, the IDF noted that it was “still verifying and investigating details about the location of his murder.”
Two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured during the failed rescue attempt on December 8, according to the Times of Israel.
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Baruch’s body is reportedly still in the hands of Hamas.
Israel believes more than 130 hostages remain captive in Gaza, although the United States has warned that there is no way to be sure how many of them are still alive.
Israel, the United States, Qatar, Egypt and Hamas are still in negotiations over a possible second wave of hostage exchanges, although little progress has been made.
Hamas negotiators He had recently demanded multiple ceasefires that culminated in the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza in exchange for the remaining Israeli hostages, according to the Jerusalem Post.
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Israel rejected that offer outright, calling it “totally out of line.” Now, the terrorist organization says it is open to an exchange of 120 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel for 40 of the hostages.
The negotiations come after Israel announced a partial withdrawal of its troops from Gaza. Military officials said the war had entered a new phase that required more specific attacks against Hamas militants and fewer massive airstrikes and artillery bombardments.
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That change of pace is in line with requests from President Biden’s administration and Israel’s other Western allies, who had repeatedly raised alarms about civilian casualties in Gaza.
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Several Israeli hostages have been killed during fighting in Gaza since October 7, although it is unclear how many were killed by Israeli strikes. Three male hostages were accidentally killed by Israeli forces after escaping from Hamas as they attempted to approach IDF troops in early December.