Kibbutz says hostage Yair Yaakov was killed on October 7, body held in Gaza

Partner and sons of 59-year-old auto shop worker were also taken hostage amid onslaught, but were released in November as part of truce deal

Yair Yaakov. (Courtesy)
Yair Yaakov. (Courtesy)

Kibbutz Nir Oz announced on Thursday that Yair “Yaya” Yaakov, who disappeared from the kibbutz during the Hamas onslaught of October 7, had been killed that day and his body was being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Yaakov, 59, was thought until now to be held captive alive in the Strip. His partner, Meirav Tal, was also taken, as were his two sons, Or, 16, and Yagil, 12 — though the latter two had been in a different home in the kibbutz that day.

Or and Yagil were released from captivity as part of a truce deal on November 27, and Tal (who is not the boys’ mother) was released a day later.

Authorities did not specify how they had ascertained Yaakov’s death, though in the months that have passed since the attack, Israel has made use of a mix of intelligence and forensic evidence to make such determinations.

Yaakov is survived by Meirav and his three children, Shir, Or and Yagil. The kibbutz noted that he worked at an auto shop in Kibbutz Alumim, and “was a modest, simple man, who loved his family, the land and music.” A statement from the Hostages Family Forum said that “Yair was a family man with a huge heart, always willing to help everyone. He was energetic and loved enjoying life.”

The last the family heard from the couple on October 7 was a message from Tal at 9:20 a.m., noting that terrorists had entered their home and that Yaakov was trying to hold the safe room door shut in order to fend off the attackers. Video discovered later showed that the terrorists eventually used grenades to open the door of the sealed room.

His family was previously told that he had been injured in the Hamas attack and that the terrorists had used brutal force against him, but had few other details, and had been hoping that he would be returned home safely.

Meirav Tal embraces her partner Yair Yaakov’s boys, Or and Yagil Yaakov, also released from captivity, at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital after she was released as a hostage by the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, November 28, 2023. (Courtesy)

“No one has any information from Yair,” his brother, Yaniv Yaakov, said while he was missing. “We hope that he’s still okay and that his injuries were taken care of.”

The Yaakovs were among the 72 hostages taken by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, out of the 253 kidnapped overall that day amid the terror group’s murderous onslaught on southern Israel.

The IDF has said based on its findings that 30 of the remaining 130 hostages kidnapped that day are no longer alive, with some killed by Hamas on October 7 and others slain while in captivity.

A weeklong truce in late November saw the release of 105 hostages from Gaza, with four released separately prior to that. Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 11 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The Hostage Families Forum main umbrella group has called on the government to make a deal with Hamas as soon as possible to secure the release of the remaining hostages before it is too late.

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