A German-Israeli mother and her two daughters, both under six. A DJ and a restaurant manager in their early twenties. An elderly Holocaust survivor who had worked for decades championing peace and recognition of Palestinian rights.
These are just some of the estimated 199 people being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza — 50 more than previously thought— after being seized from a music festival and abducted from their homes when Hamas mounted its terror attack on Israel last week.
Some appear to have been taken from their homes in the Israeli border communities. Others are believed to have been seized from a wooded area close to the border after spending the night at a music festival. Naturally, all of their loved ones have expressed growing concern for their health and survival amid fears hostages may be used as bargaining chips for a prisoner swap or as human shields as Israel strikes back in Gaza.
A Hamas official this week said he “does not know” how many hostages are still alive, but its first hostage video released this week showed a 21-year-old Israeli captive, Mia Shem, saying she was “fine” and had been treated for her injuries. A statement by the group’s armed wing on Telegram earlier this week said that at least dozens of the hostages are being hidden in “safe places and the tunnels of the resistance”, but it has also threatened to execute a civilian hostage every time an Israeli airstrike hits Gazans “in their homes without warning”, so fears are mounting fast.
The names and details of all 199 captives are not yet known, but what we do know is that at least 13 children, eight over-60s and 10 Britons are among the credibly reported suspected captives — more than previous informal estimates had suggested. Grandparents are among them. Mothers are among them. Even babies less than a year old.
These are just some of the stories we know so far.