‘Irresponsible speculation’: Relatives knock Gantz’s comments on Bibas hostage family

After National Unity leader said he believes Israel knows the fate of Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, relatives say nothing is certain and express hope for good news

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

Relatives of the Bibas family, held hostage in Gaza since October 7, pushed back Friday after National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz said he believed that Israeli authorities know the fate of the family.

“I believe so,” said Gantz, when asked if Israel knows the fate of the family during a Kan TV interview on Thursday night, adding that the public would learn about it “when things come to fruition.”

The Bibas family — parents Shiri and Yarden, and their sons Ariel, 4, and Kfir, who turned 1 year old in January — have become among the most resonant of the hostages still held captive since Hamas’s October 7 attack, when thousands of terrorists invaded southern Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking 251 hostages.

“We are in continuous daily contact with intelligence sources, and we believe wholeheartedly that we will hear good news,” representatives of the Bibas family told Kan.

“We ask of elected officials who choose to express themselves on the issue that they do not engage in irresponsible speculation,” they said. “We emphasize that there is no certain information regarding Shiri, the children, or Yarden.”

The four members of the Bibas family were kidnapped from their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz.

Yarden, who reportedly left the home first in order to protect the rest of the family, was taken separately from his wife and two young children and is also still held in Gaza.

Shiri and the boys had been slated for release along with other mothers and children during a November truce, but never materialized, amplifying fears over their fates.

In February, the IDF released what it said was recently discovered footage showing Shiri, Ariel and Kfir Bibas surrounded by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, just hours after their abduction.

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

The clip from surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, showing Shiri Bibas holding Ariel and Kfir, who were 4 years and 9 months old, respectively, when they were kidnapped, was the first proof of life of the three members of the family since they were dragged into Gaza, according to IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari at the time.

Hagari said the IDF was “very concerned about the fate of Shiri and the children,” but declined to elaborate on the additional “scraps” of information and intelligence that have led the army to fear for their lives.

He said the IDF did not have enough information to confirm whether they are dead or alive, but was “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” If and when there is definitive information “one way or another,” he said, “we will first tell the family and then the public.”

Ofri Bibas-Levy, sister of Yarden Bibas, held hostage in Gaza with his wife, Shiri and two kids, Kfir and Ariel, talks to the media, in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 14, 2023. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP, File)

Hamas in November claimed that Shiri, Ariel and Kfir were killed in an IDF strike, but the army insists that the claim has not been verified, and has described it as “psychological terror.” Hamas has previously announced that an Israeli hostage was killed by an IDF stroke only to release her alive several weeks later.

In January, Nili Margalit, who spent nearly 50 days in Hamas captivity, revealed that she was with Yarden when Hamas terrorists told him his wife and two young children had been killed and ordered him to film a video in which he blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to return their bodies to Israel.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza, with dozens of them thought to be dead. Hamas is also holding two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip in 2014 and 2015, as well as the bodies of two IDF soldiers who were killed in 2014.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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