IDF admits hostage Sahar Baruch was killed during failed rescue attempt last month

Military says still unable to determine cause of death of 25-year-old, but confirms Hamas’s claim that he was killed during operation in Gaza on December 8

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Sahar Baruch, who was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Be'eri, and later confirmed dead. (Courtesy)
Sahar Baruch, who was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 from Kibbutz Be'eri, and later confirmed dead. (Courtesy)

The IDF notified the family of hostage Sahar Baruch on Wednesday that he was killed during a failed attempt to rescue him from Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip last month.

The military said it was unable to determine the cause of death at this stage, and that it was unknown whether Baruch, 25, was murdered by Hamas or killed by Israeli fire during the failed hostage rescue on December 8.

It was also unclear at what stage during the rescue attempt Baruch was killed.

Hamas at the time claimed that Baruch was killed by the IDF, publishing graphic footage of his body, along with equipment apparently belonging to Israeli forces.

Two IDF soldiers were seriously wounded in the attempted hostage rescue, the military said after the incident. It said at the time that it was investigating Hamas’s claims and did not immediately confirm that Baruch’s death was linked to the failed hostage rescue.

The IDF said Wednesday that it would “continue to accompany the Baruch family and the other families of the hostages as needed.”

“We are working in all ways, intelligence and operational, to return the hostages home,” it added.

Sahar Baruch, who was taken captive by Hamas terrorists, speaks in a video released by the terror group on December 8, 2023. (Screenshot: Telegram)

Baruch was abducted by Hamas terrorists on October 7 as they attacked Kibbutz Be’eri, murdering dozens and kidnapping scores of residents.

His body remains held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

It is believed that 129 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November.

Four hostages were released prior to that, and one was rescued by troops. The bodies of eight hostages have also been recovered and three hostages were mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 23 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

Another three people have been listed as missing since October 7, and their fates are still unknown.

Hamas is also holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

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