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Hamas holding 224 hostages, including 2 Pinoys, says Israel

THE number of people confirmed held hostage in the Gaza Strip since the Oct 7 cross-border raids by Hamas has reached 224, and could rise further, the Israeli military said yesterday.

The Israel government earlier said more than half of Hamas’ hostages have foreign passports from 25 different countries, including two Filipinos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is checking the Israeli announcement.

“Not confirmed. But likely. We are working under that presumption,” said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said in a Viber message.

“Not 100 percent verified but we are assuming that they are, as there is no sign of them in Israel,” he added.

De Vega said the DFA is talking with various governments to seek their assistance. Earlier, De Vega said the wife of a supposed Filipino hostage reported she saw her husband in a video of persons taken hostage by the militant group.

The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv said it has yet to receive official confirmation that Filipinos are among the Hamas hostages.

Four Filipinos have died in the war between Israel and Hamas while two others remained missing.

There are over 30,000 Filipinos in Israel, mostly in Tel Aviv and Haifa, working as household service workers, caregivers and in the hotel and service industries.

The Israel government, in providing updated figures, said 328 people from 40 countries were confirmed as dead or missing after the surprise Oct. 7 attack by Hamas fighters on southern Israel. In all, an estimated 1,400 people were killed in the assault.

Israel said 138 of the hostages had foreign passports, including 15 Argentinians, 12 Germans, 12 Americans, six French, and six Russians.

Many were believed to have had dual Israeli nationality, however some, like the Thais and five Nepalese hostages, almost certainly did not. There was also one Chinese hostage, one Sri Lankan, two from Tanzania and two from the Philippines.

Thais also made up the largest single group of foreign dead and missing, with 24 confirmed killed and 21 unaccounted for.

Thailand is one of the largest sources of migrant workers in Israel, with around 30,000 working in the agriculture sector, according to government data.