Jan. 18, 2024, marks the first birthday of Kfir Bibas, the youngest hostage taken into captivity by Hamas.
It has been over 100 days since Kfir and about 240 others were taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 and have been held captive in Gaza.
Around half the hostages were released in November through a ceasefire deal, but that still left many others, including Kfir and his family, in captivity.
Kfir was nearly 10 months old when he was taken from Kibbutz Nir Oz and brought into Hamas’ captivity in Gaza. His 4-year-old brother Ariel, mother Shiri and father Yarden were also taken.
Hamas has said the young siblings and Shiri were all killed, and Yarden was the only survivor. A video was released showing Yarden reacting to the news of his family’s death. The deaths of Kfir, Shiri and Ariel have not been confirmed by Israel, leaving hope for relatives.
To mark Kfir’s first birthday, freed hostages and the families of those still being held captive came together for a ceremony Tuesday.
Ginger balloons, representative of the Kfir’s bright hair, and a teddy bear-themed birthday cake with his photo were left at the now abandoned Nir Oz kindergarten.
“We’re marking a birthday to a kid who’s not here. We make him a cake, we put balloons, pictures, and blessings and everything. And he’s not here,” Shiri’s cousin, Yosi Shnaider, told Reuters. “It’s crazy.”
An additional ceremony will be held Thursday, where supporters and families of hostages will come together at “Hostages Square” in Tel Aviv, according to The Times of Israel. The poster for the ceremony labels it as the “saddest birthday in the world.”
With over 100 days now spent in captivity, Kfir has spent nearly a third of his life in Hamas’ captivity.