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ConflictsMiddle East

Israel-Hamas war: Israel declares 31 hostages dead

Published February 6, 2024last updated February 6, 2024

Israel's military has said it has informed the families of 31 of the hostages still thought to be held by Hamas that it believes their loved ones have died. DW has more.

Relatives and supporters lift placards bearing portraits of Israeli hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Palestinian Hamas militants, during a rally calling for their release in Tel Aviv on February 3, 2024.
Relatives of the hostages have been demonstrating regularly in Tel AvivImage: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • The IDF says it believes 31 of the estimated 136 remaining hostages still held by Hamas are no longer alive
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi discuss Israel-Hamas war
  • Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis say they attacked two ships in the Red Sea
  • Israel's evacuation order now covers two-thirds of the Gaza Strip
Skip next section Israel says 31 hostages held in Gaza are dead
February 6, 2024

Israel says 31 hostages held in Gaza are dead

Israel on Tuesday said that 31 of the remaining hostages being held by Hamas militants in Gaza have died. 

"We have informed 31 families that their captured loved ones are no longer among the living and that we have pronounced them dead," Israel's chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

Israel has said it believes that 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza. It had in the past said it believed around 20 of them were dead.

During the Hamas terror attacks on October 7, 253 people were taken hostage during raids on communities in southern Israel. Over 1,200 people were killed.

Around 100 hostages, many but not all of them Israelis, were released during a one-week truce in November in exchange for Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. 

Netanyahu under pressure, even as hostage deal rumors grow

Skip next section US says new cease-fire deal 'possible'
February 6, 2024

US says new cease-fire deal 'possible'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was reviewing Hamas' response to a proposed ceasefire deal for Gaza, and would discuss it with Israeli officials when he visits on Wednesday.

"There's still a lot of work to do be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible, and indeed essential," he told a press conference in Doha with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Blinken is currently on his fifth tour of the Middle East since the Hamas terror attacks on October 7 sparked a war with Israel.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said that there had "been some movement" on the cease-fire talks. However, the president said Hamas' response was "a little over the top. We're not sure where it is. There's continuing negotiations."

Blinken meets Qatari officials

Qatar has helped mediate the cease-fire proposal between Israel and Hamas, which is designated as a terror organization by the US, Germany, the EU, and other governments.

On Tuesday, Hamas said it had delivered its response to the cease-fire deal that was handed to the militant group last week by Qatari mediators.

Details of Hamas' response have not been revealed, but Qatar said they felt "optimistic" about the reply. The proposal was drawn up by US and Israeli negotiators at a meeting with Egyptian and Qatari officials.

It calls for the release of remaining hostages being held by Hamas in exchange for a cease-fire. However, Hamas has said a condition of any deal would be the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, which Israel has made clear it will not accept, at least not in the current circumstances.

Skip next section Argentina's Milei visits Israel amid mooted embassy move to Jerusalem
February 6, 2024

Argentina's Milei visits Israel amid mooted embassy move to Jerusalem

Argentina's President Javier Milei arrived in Israel for his first official trip abroad, aside from a whirlwind stop at the Davos economic forum in Switzerland last month.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomed him at Ben Gurion Airport and commended Argentina's new government for its apparent willingness to move Argentina's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel made Jerusalem its capital in 1980, but most countries have so far retained embassies in Tel Aviv.

Palestinians also claim East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state. 

The international consensus remains that the status of Jerusalem should be part of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Milei has expressed an intention to convert to Judaism and is scheduled to meet with rabbis during his trip to Israel. He will also visit significant Jewish sites in Jerusalem and participate in events commemorating the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold meetings with the Argentinian leader on Wednesday. 

Skip next section Report into Israeli allegations of UNRWA staff involvement during Oct. 7 due March
February 6, 2024

Report into Israeli allegations of UNRWA staff involvement during Oct. 7 due March

The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) expects a preliminary report into claims that its staff was involved in the October 7 attacks on Israel to be ready early next month.

Nineteen major donors to UNRWA, including the United States and Germany, froze funding after Israeli allegations that a dozen of its Palestinian employees were suspected of playing a role in the militant attacks.

"We expect a preliminary investigation report in early March, based on which we assume donors would look into their decisions of having suspended funding to UNRWA," the agency's representative in Lebanon, Dorothee Klaus, said.

UNRWA had fired 12 employees over the matter and launched an investigation immediately after Israel made the claims. 

The UN's oversight office, which functions independently from UNRWA, is carrying out the investigation.

UNRWA, which provides food and runs schools, clinics and other essential services in Gaza, employs some 13,000 people there, most of them Palestinians.

But the agency also works in other areas in the Middle East. 

Klaus warned that the agency would not be able to pay its employees in Lebanon in March, which would result in 40,000 children being left without schooling and many more without medical services in camps.

Skip next section Gaza ministry puts death toll at 27,585
February 6, 2024

Gaza ministry puts death toll at 27,585

The Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said Tuesday at least 27,585 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since Israel began its offensive there.

The ministry said the toll included 107 deaths in the past 24 hours and that another 66,978 people had been wounded since the start of the war.

The ministry's figures are deemed largely accurate by the UN but do not differentiate between militants and civilians.

Israel says 226 of its soldiers have been killed in its offensive, launched after Hamas militants from Gaza carried out a terror attack on southern Israel, killing over 1,100 people and taking 250 hostages.

Skip next section Ship targeted in Houthi rebel attacks in Red Sea
February 6, 2024

Ship targeted in Houthi rebel attacks in Red Sea

A British-owned cargo ship suffered minor damage in a drone attack off Yemen in the Red Sea, according to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and security firm Ambrey on Tuesday.

The attack occurred 57 nautical miles west of Hodeida, Yemen, with the Barbados-flagged ship incurring slight damage to the bridge windows from a projectile, the UKMTO said.

A spokesperson of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree said the militants attacked two separate vessels — one American and one British — in the Red Sea. He provided no evidence to support the claim.

One of the ships, the Morning Tide, matched the details provided by Ambrey.

The Houthis have targeted vessels in the Red Sea over Israel's war in Gaza against Hamas.

In response, a US-led coalition has carried out strikes on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

The latest was on Monday when it targeted "explosive uncrewed surface vehicles or USVs," or explosive-laden drone boats.

Skip next section Blinken in Cairo for talks with el-Sisi
February 6, 2024

Blinken in Cairo for talks with el-Sisi

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

It is the second stop in a broader tour of the Middle East to discuss boosting aid to Gaza, a possible cease-fire and a hostage deal.

His talks with el-Sisi come amid growing concerns in Egypt about Israel's plans to expand the combat in Gaza to areas on the Egyptian border that are crammed with displaced Palestinians.

Blinken spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Monday about "the urgent need to reduce regional tensions," according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

The top US diplomat also travels to Qatar before flying to Israel on Tuesday. 

Blinken in Middle East for cease-fire talks

Skip next section Israel's evacuation orders cover 2/3 of the Gaza Strip
February 6, 2024

Israel's evacuation orders cover 2/3 of the Gaza Strip

A woman and a child sit outside makeshift tents they set up in Rafah, Gaza
Palestinians who fled the Israeli military advance took refuge in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Image: Abed Zagout/Anadolu/picture alliance

Israel's evacuation orders in the Gaza Strip now cover two-thirds of the territory according to UN humanitarian monitors.

The area affected had been home to 1.78 million Palestinians, or 77% of the population.

Early on in the war, Israel's military ordered Palestinians in northern Gaza to leave, ostensibly to get out of the way of a ground offensive.

Evacuation orders eventually expanded to parts of the south, including the city of Khan Younis and surrounding areas.

Now, over half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are squeezed into the town of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

People are crammed into makeshift tented camps and face acute shortages of food, water, shelter and medicine, OCHA said.

UNICEF said Tuesday that most of the displaced people only have 1.5 to 2 liters (0.4 to 0.53 gallons) of water per day to drink, cook and wash.

The UN Children's Agency said there was also an increase in cases of chronic diarrhea among children.

lo/kb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)