Bibas family hopes new video of kidnapped mom and kids ‘shocks world’ into action

Relatives say clip of Shiri Bibas and two young children being herded into car in Khan Younis ‘tore our hearts out,’ expressing hopes that footage refocuses attention on captives

Pictures of the Bibas family hang on a wall outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Pictures of the Bibas family hang on a wall outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, February 19, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Relatives of the Bibas family held captive in Gaza said Tuesday they hoped newly published video of mom Shiri Bibas being hustled through Khan Younis by gunmen as she clutched her toddler and infant would help jar the world and Israel’s leaders into action, expressing outrage that they are still being held hostage.

“This is a humanitarian global crisis — whatever people think about political complexities, it’s a baby in a freaking jail, all right? How can people be so silent about it?” exclaimed Aylon Keshet, a cousin of Yarden Bibas, who is being held in Gaza apart from his wife Shiri and young sons Ariel, 4, and Kfir, who was 9 months old when he was kidnapped.

Keshet made the comments during a press conference called by the family a day after the IDF published the video and expressed concern over their fates.

The clip shows Shiri, 32, holding Ariel, recognizable by his bright red hair, with an unseen Kfir likely in a baby carrier on Shiri’s chest, being covered by a sheet as they are led away by terrorists in Khan Younis, hours after they were snatched from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.

Shiri Bibas, with her sons Ariel and Kfir, in Khan Younis on October 7, soon after they were kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz, in a still from a video released by the IDF on February 19, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Yarden, 34, Shiri’s husband and the boys’ father, was kidnapped separately and is not being held with them, according to testimony from freed hostages.

Ofri Bibas-Levy, Yarden’s sister, said the video published Monday “tore our hearts out.”

Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster on Tuesday, she said the family had allowed the army to publish the video, taken from security footage discovered at a terror group’s outpost in Gaza, in hopes it would refocus attention on the hostages’ plight.

“We need to shock both the world and the decision-makers. Put the family and the hostages back on the agenda. That’s why we agreed to it,” she said.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Monday night the footage was the first sign of life from Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir Bibas since they were abducted. Kfir, who turned one on January 18, is the youngest Israeli hostage in Gaza. Other “scraps of information” make the IDF “very concerned for the fate of Shiri and the children,” said Hagari.

The military spokesman told reporters that the clip was found “over the past few weeks” during IDF operations in Khan Younis, on surveillance cameras from an outpost belonging to Kata’ib Mujahideen, a small Gaza terror group somewhat allied with the Strip’s Hamas rulers.

Hamas has claimed that Shiri, Ariel and Kfir were killed but the IDF has said that the claim is unverified.

Ofri Bibas-Levy, sister of Yarden Bibas, speaks on February 20, 2024 (Screen capture)

Responding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on the video, in which the premier pledged to “settle accounts with those who kidnapped and are holding the hostages,” Bibas-Levy said Monday that “the first priority is getting [the hostages] back.”

The family was snatched from Nir Oz during Hamas’s brutal October 7 onslaught, in which thousands of gunmen led by the Palestinian terror group stormed southern Israel, killing nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and taking 253 hostages, while committing numerous atrocities and weaponizing sexual violence on a mass scale.

Yarden was taken first as he attempted to protect his family, and later Shiri and the two boys were kidnapped as well, with shocking footage showing her trying to shield her young children as the pair were surrounded by gunmen.

Shiri Bibas and her sons Ariel, 4, and baby Kfir, are abducted from Kibbutz Nir Oz by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot)

“It was a massive group of terrorists, surrounding her and then making her move from one car to another to another, like some kind of merchandise that’s not human, that’s not a mother and two babies,” Bibas-Levy said during the Tuesday press conference.

Yifat Zailer, Shiri Bibas’s cousin, said Tuesday that the new video footage shows that it took just a few minutes to bring the family from Nir Oz to Gaza.

“You can see the men waiting outside, prepared with a blanket. It was well organized, nothing spontaneous,” said Zailer.

The Bibas family, father Yarden, mother Shiri, baby Kfir and four-year-old Ariel, were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Nir Oz. (Courtesy)

Keshet noted that Shiri Bibas’s parents were brutally murdered on October 7, burned in their Nir Oz home. Of Nir Oz’s roughly 400 residents, over 70 were abducted and nearly 40 were murdered.

“We don’t want to bury three generations of a family,” he said.

In late November, IDF Arabic-language spokesman Avichai Adraee confirmed, via X, that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir Bibas had been transferred by Hamas to another terror group inside the Gaza Strip, and that they were believed to be held in the southern city of Khan Younis. The mother and her two children were slated to be freed during the November ceasefire, but their release never materialized because they were not being held by Hamas.

Israelis mark the first birthday of Kfir Bibas, who is held hostage by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv, January 18, 2024. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Bibas-Levy spoke about her close relationship with Yarden, her only brother, who married Shiri shortly after Ofri married. The two couples used to live close by one another and would meet several times a week. She mentioned that she is six months pregnant and hopes her brother and his family will meet her new baby.

“Ariel and my daughter are best friends, my daughter asks about him all the time, asking why no one can find him?” she said. “She’s asking me if he’s dead and I don’t know what to tell her. I don’t have the answers.”

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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