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Israeli hostage killed in December during attempted rescue in Gaza

The IDF has been unable to determine the exact cause of Sahar Baruch's death during the Dec. 8 operation.

Israeli hostage Sahar Baruch, 25, of Kibbutz Be'eri, appears in a Hamas propaganda video. Source: Screenshot.
Israeli hostage Sahar Baruch, 25, of Kibbutz Be'eri, appears in a Hamas propaganda video. Source: Screenshot.

The Israel Defense Forces revealed on Wednesday that Sahar Baruch, whom Hamas terrorists took hostage during their Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 people in southern Israel, was killed during an attempted rescue operation last month in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF said it has been unable to determine the exact cause of Baruch’s death during the Dec. 8 rescue operation, during which two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded, according to reports.

Kibbutz Be’eri announced on Dec. 9 that Baruch, 25, a resident of the border community, died in Hamas captivity. It didn’t provide additional details.

“We demand the return of his body as part of any hostage deal. We won’t stop until everyone is home,” kibbutz officials stated at the time.

Hamas still holds more than 120 hostages, not all of whom are believed to be alive. It has released 110 people, most in a ceasefire deal that Hamas violated on Nov. 28.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed negotiations to return all hostages, describing indirect talks conducted through Qatari and Egyptian mediators as a “tug of war” with ups and downs. He also assured families of captives that military pressure on Hamas is bearing fruit.

So far, the IDF has succeeded in freeing one hostage, 19-year-old Pvt. Ori Megidish, on Oct. 30, three weeks after Hamas kidnapped her from the Nahal Oz Base.

During a visit to Israel’s northern border on Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi emphasized that while the Jewish state is “very well prepared” in all sectors, the army is currently focused on fighting Hamas terrorists on its southern border.

“These very difficult circumstances create an opportunity to change the situation in a very significant way—in the south, but also in the north and the general regional situation,” he added, of the Oct. 7 attack.

The IDF announced on Wednesday it had destroyed an extensive network of terror tunnels under Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, where Hamas held at least three of the estimated 240 hostages it kidnapped on Oct. 7.

That tunnel route spread over about 820 feet, according to the military, “leading to significant terror centers and constitutes central infrastructure for carrying out terrorist operations.”

Israel reportedly destroyed the tunnel network without damaging Shifa’s buildings, and hospital services were not disrupted at any point.

Palestinian terrorist organizations systematically operate in Gaza hospitals, using patients as human shields and exploiting medical infrastructure, including stealing electricity and water, the IDF charged.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF accused Hamas of indoctrinating children to convince them to join its ranks.

Israeli troops operating in the coastal enclave discovered pictures showing kids posing with rifles, grenade launchers, rockets and other terror equipment.

Many of the Palestinian minors were photographed alongside masked Hamas terror operatives. While the faces of the children were blurred, some appeared to be as young as 10.

The IDF said Hamas uses minors for various tasks, including delivering messages and ammunition. Children sometimes also transport explosives hidden in vegetable bags or assess damage in combat zones.

“From a young age, children are educated to hate Israel and Jews,” the IDF said. “In schools, youth movements and at camps children undergo both theoretical and practical military training.”

“Based on intelligence, it is estimated that a significant number of minors are active in the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations,” it added.

On Wednesday morning, sirens sounded in Israeli communities near Gaza as the IDF intensified its attacks on the Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis.

During Givati Brigade operations in Khan Yunis in recent days, terrorists who participated in the Oct. 7 mass murder in the northwestern Negev surrendered to IDF soldiers.

Israeli troops in Gaza also discovered a tunnel shaft located inside a school, the army said.

The 5th Brigade’s combat team discovered a tunnel in the southern Gaza town of Khuza’a (Khirbat Ikhzaa). The forces also found photos of weapons geared for children. The IDF released a photo showing mortars, grenades and bullets inside the school.

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