Presumed hostage Dolev Yehud declared dead as remains identified in Israel

Following new tests, military confirms 35-year-old father of four and volunteer medic was killed while aiding others in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7

Dolev Yehud, who was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)
Dolev Yehud, who was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy)

The IDF announced on Monday that Dolev Yehud, who was initially believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas terrorists on October 7, has been declared dead after his body was identified in Israel.

Dolev, 35, was a volunteer medic with Magen David Adom and United Hatzala. On the morning of October 7, he left his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz to save others amid the Hamas onslaught before he himself was killed.

He is survived by his wife Sigal, whom he’d been with since the age of 12, and their four children, Raz, 7, Yotam, 6, Ron, 4 and Dor, who was born on October 16 while Dolev was believed to be held hostage.

Speaking to Channel 12 early in the war, Sigal recalled how Dolev had heard what was happening outside and left to help fend off the terrorists.

“He told me to stay in the safe room, to be calm,” she told the news outlet. “He asked me to stay calm and try to work on my breathing as much as I can.”

Hopeful that Dolev would return, Sigal named their newborn daughter Dor, using some of the letters of Dolev’s name to symbolize the continuity of life.

“I want him alive and I want him to know her and she needs to know her father and she needs to grow up with her father,” she told Channel 12 in November.

While the IDF initially believed that Dolev had been abducted, as the war continued, there was no indication from Gaza that he was there, unlike many of the other hostages.

In light of the absence of information, authorities made the decision to reevaluate unidentified remains found in the kibbutz after the October 7 massacre. Some victims of the Hamas massacre had their bodies burned or otherwise mutilated beyond recognition, making identification difficult.

New scientific identification tests paired with information on where the remains were found confirmed that a previously unidentified body belonged to Dolev.

The IDF said his family was notified after his body was identified.

His sister, Arbel Yehud, 28, is still being held by the terror group in Gaza after she was taken from her Kibbutz Nir Oz home along with her boyfriend Ariel Cunio.

Throughout the months of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, Dolev and Arbel’s parents have campaigned for the government to do more to facilitate the release of the hostages.

“It feels like a part of my soul is missing — it’s been 100 days that feel like one long day,” their father Yehi Yehud told Ynet in January.

He told the news outlet at the time that they had received reports from released hostages that Arbel was alive, and said he hoped that she was being held together with Dolev.

“Dolev and Arbel have a very close relationship,” he said of his two children. “An older brother and a younger sister who always saw him as a sort of mentor.”

Arbel Yehud was taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

Dolev was described by his family and friends as a family man who loved standup comedy and comedy podcasts, and his wife Sigal said that his favorite Jewish holiday was Purim.

Purim is “a holiday full of joy, color, originality, creativity and uniqueness, it’s your holiday,” she said in a message to him in March on the occasion of the holiday. “You are also full of joy, colorful, original, creative and without a doubt, unique.”

“We always knew how to find the most original, most creative costume and make it unique to us,” she said, adding that, unlike previous years, she had not planned a Purim party, as there was no cause for celebration while he remained absent.

An image published by Sigal alongside her plea for his return showed the couple’s 4-year-old daughter Ron dressed in a princess costume and holding a photo of her father.

Following news of his death, United Hatzalah founder and head Eli Beer recalled Dolev as someone who “always acted for the sake of others and provided aid and assistance to all, even people he did not know.”

The confirmation of his death inside Israel on October 7 lowers the number of hostages taken by Hamas from the previous figure of 252 to 251.

Of that number, 120 are believed to still be held in Gaza, along with the bodies of IDF soldiers who fell fighting in Gaza in 2014, and two Israeli civilians who are also held by Hamas and thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord in 2014 and 2015, respectively, while suffering from mental illness.

Some 1,200 people were killed in southern Israel during the October 7 terror onslaught amid acts of brutality that left the remains of some unidentifiable.

On May 3, the IDF confirmed the death of Elyakim Libman, who, like Yehud, was originally believed to have been taken hostage before his remains were identified in Israel, months later.

Libman, who had been at the Supernova music festival, was mistakenly buried alongside another victim of the massacre at the festival. A similar incident also occurred in November, when the remains of another victim, Shani Gabay, were found to have been buried alongside another woman.

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