Hamas is holding about 239 hostages following its October 7 terror attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people, according to the Israeli military.
Just four have been released since the attack, one was rescued and at least three were found dead. Sources tell CNN a possible deal to secure the release of some hostages – in return for a temporary pause in fighting – may be in sight, following weeks of negotiations involving several countries.
Here’s what we know about the captives.
Who are the hostages? The hostages include children and elderly people snatched from kibbutzim, young people hunted down while fleeing the Nova music festival, families and Israeli soldiers. Among them are people from more than 25 countries, according to the Israeli government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in October that 33 of the hostages were children, although the IDF’s overall count of hostages has since fluctuated.
Have any been released? Hamas released two US hostages, Judith Tai Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, on October 20. Days later, Hamas freed two more hostages: Yocheved Lifschitz, an 85-year-old grandmother, and her neighbor Nurit Cooper, 79, from Nir Oz. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also said it rescued Pvt. Ori Megidish last month in a “boots on the ground” operation.
Have any been killed? The IDF has found the bodies of at least three hostages since it launched its ground offensive in Gaza.
Shani Louk, a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman snatched from the Nova music festival, was declared dead on October 30. The IDF last week found two more bodies outside the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City: Yehudit Weiss, a 65-year-old grandmother, and Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old soldier.
Who took them and where are they being kept? Not all of the hostages are being held by Hamas. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a rival Islamist group, released a video of two hostages — a 77-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy — and said it was prepared to release both on humanitarian grounds. That has not yet happened.
What has the reaction been in Israel? Netanyahu’s government has faced furious reaction from the Israeli public and families of hostages who want more done to secure their release.
How has Israel resolved previous hostage crises? Israel has previously been willing to pay a high price to secure the release of hostages.
Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, was captured by Hamas in 2006 and held for five years. In order to free him, Israel exchanged more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom had been convicted of deadly attacks against Israelis.