A week-long cease-fire that saw the exchange of dozens of Hamas captives for scores of Palestinian inmates held by israel ended friday morning, allowing israel and Hamas to restart combat. As mediators scurry between the warring parties in a last-ditch attempt to make another handover, doubts arise about who is still held captive in the beleaguered enclave.

In their horrific Oct. 7 raid on southern israel, Hamas and other militants took around 247 captives. More than 1,200 people were slain. In response, israel has bombed the Gaza Strip, killing at least 13,300 Palestinians, two-thirds of them are women and children, according to health officials in the Hamas-ruled region.

According to israel, 136 captives remain in Gaza. According to military spokesperson Daniel Hagari, there are 119 males, 17 women, and 17 children among them. According to the Prime Minister's Office, around ten of the hostages are 75 or older. The great majority are Israelis, with 11 other nationals, including eight Thais, one from Nepal, one from Tanzania, and one French-Mexican.

Earlier, Eylon Levy, a government spokeswoman, said that the youngest captive, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his 4-year-old brother Ariel, and his mother Shiri were still among the hostages. The Israeli military has stated that it is looking into a Hamas claim that the youngsters and their mother were murdered in an Israeli attack. Hagari didn't say anything about the three. Families of hostages who have not been released remain desperate, pleading with the authorities to return their loved ones.

They hear from the relatives of newly released captives that conditions are harsh, and they are concerned that their loved ones do not have enough food and drink. They beg the red Cross to provide their families with desperately needed medication. They suffer when morsels of knowledge about their families emerge.

Sharone Lifshitz, whose mother was released in October, learned last week that a returning captive had seen her father, Oded Lifshitz, 83, in captivity. Her father was last seen being shot while being transported to Gaza by terrorists.

She describes the news as a "ray of light," but she questions whether it is still true.

"My father is sick and feeble. "He requires medication," she stated. "I don't know how long he can survive in such harsh conditions."

She described the release of women and children captives as bittersweet because their husbands and dads remain detained. The thought that children might recuperate while their dads remained captives was "unthinkable," she continued.


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