The Israel Defense Forces say an Israeli hostage was killed in Gaza during an attempt to rescue him from Hamas forces in December, local media reported Wednesday.
The IDF reportedly notified the family of Sahar Baruch this week. They said it is unclear whether Baruch was killed by Israeli forces or by Hamas, despite saying on Dec. 9 that Baruch ‘was murdered by the Hamas terrorist organization.’
Even then, however, the IDF noted that they were ‘still verifying and investigating the details regarding the place of his murder.’
Two Israeli soldiers were severely injured during the failed rescue attempt on Dec. 8, according to the Times of Israel.
Baruch’s body reportedly is still being held by Hamas.
Israel believes that more than 130 hostages remain in captivity in Gaza, though the U.S. has cautioned that there is no way to be sure how many of them remain alive.
Israel, the U.S., Qatar, Egypt and Hamas are still in negotiations surrounding a potential second wave of hostage exchanges, though little progress has been made.
Hamas negotiators recently had demanded multiple cease-fires culminating in the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza in exchange for the remaining Israeli hostages, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Israel rejected that offer outright, calling it ‘totally off base.’ Now, the terrorist organization is saying it is open to an exchange of 120 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel for 40 of the hostages.
The negotiations come after Israel announced a partial withdrawal of troops from Gaza. Military officials said the war had entered a new phase requiring more targeted strikes on Hamas militants and fewer mass air strikes and artillery barrages.
That change of pace is in line with requests from President Biden’s administration and Israel’s other Western allies, who had repeatedly sounded alarms about civilian casualties in Gaza.
Multiple Israeli hostages have been killed during the fighting in Gaza since Oct. 7, though it is unclear how many were killed by Israeli attacks. Three male hostages were accidentally killed by Israeli forces after escaping from Hamas when they tried to approach IDF troops in early December.