His face has become instantly recognizable around the world: A red-haired baby boy holding a pink elephant toy, looking directly into the camera with a toothless smile.
His name is Kfir Bibas, and he is the youngest of the 253 hostages taken into Gaza by Hamas and other militant groups during the terror attacks against Israel on October 7.
On Thursday, Kfir turns one — if he is still alive.
The baby boy was kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel alongside his parents Yarden and Shiri, and his four-year old brother Ariel.
Friends and relatives of the Bibas family held a small event at Nir Oz on Tuesday, commemorating Kfir’s birthday with a large balloon display and a cake featuring the famous photo of Kfir with the pink elephant.
On Thursday, the family is holding a public event in Tel Aviv on Thursday, pleading for their release.
“You know, any rules even from the Quran because in the Quran, you cannot do damage to kids … so Hamas breaks all the rules of the Islam,” he added.
It is not clear whether Kfir and his family are still alive. The two boys and their mother were not released from Gaza during the temporary truce in late November, despite the fact that the deal agreed between Israel and Hamas called for all women and children to be set free.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said at that time they believed the family was being held hostage by other militia groups and not by Hamas.
However, later that week, Hamas said, without providing any evidence, that Kfir, his brother and his mother were killed in an Israeli airstrike.
A few days after making the claim that the family were dead, Hamas released a video of Yarden Bibas, Kfir’s father, in which he blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the death of his wife and two children. Bibas appeared to be in extreme distress in the video and was very likely speaking under duress.
The IDF called the video a “cruel act of psychological terror which Hamas is using against families of hostages.”
Israel believes 253 hostages were taken into Gaza during the Hamas attack on October 7. Following hostage releases and one rescue, the Prime Minister’s Office says 132 hostages remain in Gaza, of whom 105 are alive and 27 dead.