Yosi Shnaider was watching a home video on his cell phone in his apartment near Tel Aviv.
In the video, a smiling, red-haired baby sits in a bouncy chair. His big brother, just a few years older with the same fiery hair, leans into the frame and kisses the baby’s head, who then giggles joyfully.
They are 10-month-old Kfir and four-year-old Ariel Bibas, who Israeli officials say are the last of the young children still being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Ariel and Kfir are the last, the last. Kfir is the smallest baby in captivity, the youngest. And he was left behind,” said Shnaider, a cousin of the boys’ mother, Shiri Bibas, who is also in captivity along with her husband Yarden.
Hamas infiltrators captured the Bibas family along with more than 200 other people during the Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israeli cities that sparked Gaza’s devastating war.
More than 100 hostages were released in a week-long ceasefire that ended Friday, but the Bibas family – two children and their parents – were not.
“Some of the abducted people, upon their return, told stories about the conditions in which they were held. One of the things the kids said was that they always asked them to be quiet,” Shnaider said.
“And I think to myself, a little baby, a little baby like Kfir, is crying. He’s just starting to lose his teeth and is crying. So how do you stop a baby from crying? What do you have to do? do to do that?
Hamas said Kfir, Ariel and Shira Bibas were killed in an Israeli bombardment, but the Israeli military said the information had not been verified. Hamas also released a video of father Yarden sitting in captivity in front of a white wall, stifling sobs and asking for his family to be buried in Israel.
The Israeli military called the video a “cruel documentary” and “an act of psychological terror.”
Shnaider said it shows Yarden, who appears to have lost a lot of weight, in a serious situation.
“But you can see that he is alive. So there’s a light again,” he said.
After two months in captivity, the Bibas children stand out from the crowd of hostages because of their age and their reddish-brown hair.
“Somewhere in my heart and my head there is an orange light, a very strong and bright orange light, and I am 100% sure that they are alive and will come back.”
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