Elderly man, kindergarten teacher, among several hostages killed in Hamas captivity

Several hostages, including an elderly man and a woman kindergarten teacher, have died in Hamas captivity, confirmed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday (December 1, 2023).

Kibbutz Nir Oz resident Eliyahu Margalit killed in Hamas captivity . Photo Courtesy: Kibbutz Nir Oz Facebook page

Kibbutz Nir Oz wrote on its Facebook page that the deceased, who all lived in its community, included grandpa Aryeh Zalmanovich, 85; kindergarten instructor and mom of four Maya Goren, 56; and photographer Ronen Engel, 54, the New York Post reported.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed the death of the hostages and told The Times of Israel: “We are continuing to invest many intelligence and operational efforts, to bring information on the conditions of the hostages.”

“In the last few days, the IDF and police notified the families of Eliyahu Margalit, Mia Goren, Ronen Engel and Aryeh Zalmanovich of their deaths,” he said.

“This comes after a team of Health Ministry experts, the [Abu Kabir Forensic Institute], the chief rabbi and Religious Affairs Ministry declared their deaths based on findings that were collected and intelligence,” Hagari says.

As Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of his deep regret about the resumption of military operations in Gaza on Friday (December 1, 2023), UN humanitarians vowed to stay and help all those in need, while reiterating “nowhere is safe from attacks” in the war-shattered enclave.

The sound of shells exploding shortly after 7am Gaza time was clearly audible at Nasser hospital in the south, where terrified and traumatised youngsters immediately reacted by clinging to their mothers in fright, said James Elder from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The bombs started just a few seconds after the ceasefire (ended),” Elder told journalists at UN Geneva via video link from Khan Younis, before decrying the “ongoing war on children”.

“As we approached Nasser hospital there had been a hit, a missile, a rocket, something…Children with the wounds of war are everywhere, children with the wounds of war are still in corridors. Hundreds of women and children take refuge in here. You walk out of ICU (intensive care unit) and there are families of five on a mattress for two.”

The return to violence follows the end of a week-long pause in hostilities between Hamas militants and Israeli forces that allowed the delivery of desperately needed fuel, food and water, which people have been drinking as soon as it is given to them, humanitarians report.

The pause also enabled the release of hostages taken during Hamas’s 7 October surprise attack on southern Israel and ensuing massacre of some 1,200 people, and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Gaza’s health authorities have reported more than 15,000 fatalities since the Israeli strikes began, with thousands of children believed buried under the rubble. The conflict has also created around 1,000 child amputees in recent weeks, Elder noted.