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Israeli officials have revealed that more than a fifth of the remaining hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have died in captivity. 

A confidential assessment reported on by The New York Times says that at least 32 of the 136 hostages believed still in Gaza have died at some point during the over 120 days of conflict.

Image source: Associated Press

Anonymous Israeli officials has said that families of the 32 confirmed deceased hostages have been notified of their respective family member’s death.

“The figure of 32 is higher than any previous number the Israeli authorities have publicly disclosed of hostages who are dead,” the report says. “In an answer to a request for comment, the Israeli military said that most of the dead were killed on Oct. 7.”

The Oct.7 terror raid into southern Israel resulted in over 240 hostages taken, but the successful week-long truce and hostage/prisoner exchange in November resulted in about half of that number freed. 

Since then, families of the hostages still in captivity have led large protests demanding that the Netanyahu government implement another ceasefire in order to get the remaining home. In January, some family members even stormed parliament, demanding definitive action from lawmakers.

This new revelation of 32 additional hostages dead is likely to spark more anger aimed at Israeli decision-makers. Netanyahu has even been accused of being driven more out of concern for his personal political survival. 

Some of the families are becoming so active, and have received so much support nation-wide, they are mulling formally entering politics in order to help shape the course of Israeli policy in Gaza

One of the names mentioned by respondents was Gil Dickmann, a cousin of hostage Carmel Gat and an active figure in the Hostages Families Forum campaign group.

Another was Jonathan Shamriz, whose brother Alon was one of three hostages mistakenly shot dead by Israeli forces in Gaza on Dec. 15, and who has become an outspoken government critic. “I will do what I need to in order to fix this country. If that means going into politics, then I’ll have to see,” he told Reuters.

Currently, serious ceasefire negotiations involving the mediation of Qatar, Egypt, and also CIA Director William Burns have been happening in various capitals – but there’s yet to be any major breakthroughs.

Israel’s military is now in the beginning phase of a ground assault on the far southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians are crammed into camps. 

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