The youngest hostage taken by Hamas terrorists on October 7 is spending his first birthday in captivity today.
Kfir Bibas, kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz with his four-year-old brother Ariel and parents Yarden and Shiri, turns one today, a day his relatives are calling the “saddest birthday in the world.”
On Tuesday, Shiri’s cousins Jimmy Miller and Yosi Schneider held a sombre party for the missing one-year-old with relatives and members of the community at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Orange balloons and a three-tiered birthday cake decorated with fondant teddy bears marked the occasion, though the most important attendees – Kfir, Ariel, Yarden and Shiri – were absent.
“It seems like a crazy thing to do to celebrate for somebody that’s not with us,” Schneider told France 24 on Thursday.
Family and community members of Nir Oz throw a somber birthday party for Kfir Bibas, who remains a hostage in Gaza. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)
The extended Bibas family shared photos of the sad celebration on social media to remind the world that Hamas’ youngest victim, kidnapped at just nine-months-old, remains in captivity.
“I don’t know if Shiri even knows that it’s his birthday,” Miller said during an interview with CNN on Wednesday. “We don’t know if she knows the date.”
Decorations and a cake commemorate the birthday a one-year-old hostage Kfir Bibas. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters and relatives of the Bibas family along with prominent children’s entertainers are scheduled to gather at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv at 3pm on Thursday to commemorate Kfir’s birthday.
Additionally, several Israeli entertainers joined members of the Bibas family, including Miller and Schneider, to record a song about Kfir; “They Call me Gingi” - using the Hebrew word for redhead in a nod to Kfir’s unmistakable hair - was released on his first birthday.
Bring Them Home Now, the hostages and missing families forum created by the families of those taken on Oct. 7, posted a video on X showing home videos of Kfir alongside clips of children holding signs saying, “Happy birthday Kfir” and “Wish you were free.”
“I miss seeing them laughing,” Miller said of his cousin and her family. “I would like to see the first steps of Kfir walking, I would like to see his first teeth growing. We would like to see many things that we cannot see, and we don’t know what the situation is.”
On Oct.7, Yarden, 34, and Shiri, 32, were forced from their home with their two young boys during Hamas’ brutal rampage in Southern Israel. A now famous clip taken by Hamas operatives shows a terrified Shiri clutching Kfir and Ariel close to her chest as she is ushered into a vehicle. Yarden was separated from his wife and sons and taken to Gaza alone.
When negotiations allowed for the release of select hostages during a weeklong truce in November, none of the Bibas family members appeared on the list of those to be freed despite women and young children being high priority. Hamas claimed that Shiri, Ariel and Kfir were being held by another terrorist group, then later alleged they had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Released hostage Nili Margalit said she was with Yarden when Hamas terrorists told him his wife and sons had been killed. She said the terrorists filmed his reaction, then ordered him to blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to bring their bodies back to Israel.
None of Hamas’ claims about the Bibas family have been verified, and the IDF has called them “psychological terror.”
“We’re like robots now,” said Miller. “We’re doing whatever we can to move things because we see things are not moving. We waited and waited and waited and we’ve met with everyone, with actors, famous people, thinkers, and they all hug us and listen to the story with empathy but we don’t feel that anyone’s doing anything.”
Relatives of the Bibas family and their supporters release orange balloons during a rally in November. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Both Shiri’s mother and father, Margit Shnaider Silberman and Yosi Silberman, were murdered at their home in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7. Miller said the Bibas boys’ red hair comes from their grandfather Yosi.
Every Saturday night, Miller speaks to anyone who will listen at Hostages Square, persisting in his plea for his cousins’ safe return, though he said it often feels like no one is listening.
Last weekend, Yarden’s sister Ofri Bibas addressed the government directly during a speech at the 24-hour rally at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv marking 100 days of the hostages’ captivity: “Did you give up on them?”
“You don’t have a mandate to give up on them,” she said. “Your obligation is to bring them home. They’re dying in captivity. 136 coffins is not a victory. Listen to the public.”
Schneider called the international governments “cowards and hypocrites” for not forcibly advocating the release of the remaining hostages.
He argued that the Israeli government should “change their priorities”, focusing first on securing the release of the remaining hostages and leave the hunt for Hamas militants until after: “We can catch Sinwar tomorrow or in a week or in a month from now, but Kfir doesn’t have tomorrow.”