Jerusalem, Oct 12 (EFE).- Israel has notified the families of the 97 people held hostage by the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, armed forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari confirmed Thursday.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim to hold about 130 hostages between the two groups, although some Israeli estimates put the figure at about 200.
Hagari also reported that the families of 222 soldiers killed in combat since the war against Palestinian militias in Gaza began on Saturday have been notified.
However, the actual number of Israeli uniformed personnel killed is estimated to be much higher. The death toll among Israelis is expected to be more than 1,300.
“Dear families, even during the fighting, we are making three main efforts: 1. The intelligence-operational effort 2. An effort to formulate an assessment of the situation regarding the captives and missing,” Coordinator for the Captives & Missing Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Gal Hirsch said in a statement.
The coordinator added that the searches on the ground continue, as well as the difficult work of identifying the bodies.
“Many of those who were injured are being treated in hospital and we are investigating every piece of information that could assist us in locating the missing,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch spoke overnight with the US presidential envoy for the hostage issue, Roger Carstens, and was expected to meet Thursday with his deputy, Steven Gillen, after his arrival in Israel.
“The warm ties, the heartfelt concern and American commitment to assist in every way possible is very important to us,” Hirsch said.
He underlined that he and his staff were working round the clock for the missing, the captives and their families, and that together they would emerge victorious.
Hamas launched a surprise attack on land, sea and air on Saturday, catching Israel unaware.
In response, Israel declared war on Gaza militias and since then armed clashes have taken place at about twenty points in Israeli territory, and there have been continued airstrikes between the Gaza Strip and Israeli territory.
This new war has caused more than 1,300 deaths in Israel and more than 3,200 injuries; while retaliatory air strikes by Israeli aircraft have claimed at least 1,200 lives and left 5,700 wounded in Gaza. EFE