Hamas asserted on Friday that an 86-year-old man, Arye Zalmanovich, who was held hostage by the terror group, died of a heart attack while in captivity.
Who was Arye Zalmanovich?
Zalmanovich was one of the approximately 240 individuals believed to have been abducted from Israel during Hamas’ brutal October 7 terror attacks.
In a video released on Friday, Hamas claimed that Zalmanovich experienced a fatal heart attack amid shelling near the location where he was being held captive. The veracity of this claim and its purported circumstances could not be immediately independently verified.
This announcement came a day after Israeli troops operating in Gaza discovered the body of another hostage, 64-year-old Yehudit Weiss, who was battling breast cancer when abducted.
Zalmanovich played a significant role in founding the community of Kibbutz Nir Oz near the Israel-Gaza border, which witnessed some of the worst carnage during the October 7 attacks, as reported by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
Boaz, Zalmanovich’s son, shared during an October demonstration advocating for the release of hostages, “For 60 years, he got up every day at 4:30 a.m. and went out to plow, sow, and harvest. Even in the driest years, when there was nothing to eat, and even when the [rocket sirens] and mortar shells gave him 10 seconds to reach a safe room, he refused to leave the kibbutz.”
Hamas terrorists crossed the border on October 7, causing widespread indiscriminate violence that resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 people, mostly unarmed civilians, and the abduction of an estimated 240 individuals back to Gaza. Among those taken are a pregnant woman who has given birth in captivity, a security guard sought by his two soldier brothers, and an Irish-Israeli girl who marked her ninth birthday as a hostage.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hinted at ongoing negotiations for the release of some hostages held by Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups but has refrained from publicly disclosing specific details.