Hundreds in Tel Aviv mark first birthday of redheaded hostage Kfir Bibas
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Israel at warKnesset lights up in orange in honor of youngest hostage

Hundreds in Tel Aviv mark first birthday of redheaded hostage Kfir Bibas

Cousin of mother Shiri says baby ‘should be learning about colors, not languishing in a dark tunnel’; Shiri’s sister thanks people all over the world for ‘amazing gestures’

Hundreds donning orange balloons mark the birthday of ginger-haired hostage Kfir Bibas, in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square on January 18, 2024. (Courtesy via The Times of Israel)
Hundreds donning orange balloons mark the birthday of ginger-haired hostage Kfir Bibas, in Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square on January 18, 2024. (Courtesy via The Times of Israel)

A crowd of hundreds gathered at Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square Thursday, holding orange balloons to mark the first birthday of hostage Kfir Bibas.

Kfir, along with his 4-year-old brother Ariel and their parents Shiri and Yarden, were abducted on October 7 from Kibbutz Nir Oz to Gaza.

Kfir has now spent a quarter of his life in captivity, the event’s emcee noted.

Onstage in Tel Aviv, children held posters of the Bibas family decorated with orange balloons and emblazoned with the words, “The saddest birthday in the world.”

Shiri Bibas’s sister Yifat thanked the Israeli people for “the amazing gestures flooding us since this morning from every direction in the country and from every corner of the world — Argentina, Switzerland, France, London, Japan and Canada — and that give us a lot of strength, showing us how important it is for everyone to… [have] all 136 hostages home with their families.”

Entertainer Tal Museri tearfully devoted a song to heroic mothers and fathers.

Michal Weizman, a children’s entertainer, commented on the odd experience of “all of us missing a baby we don’t really know.”

“A baby should celebrate their first birthday with their family, with candles and wishes,” she said. “Please don’t stop believing we will be able to raise our children with a better future.”

Israel Prize-winning actor Miriam Zohar said: “What a child. What a winning smile. I’m with you a lot, dear families, and I wish only one thing for myself — to celebrate Kfir’s second birthday with him. And not just him, everybody… Bring them home now!”

Yifat Zailer, a Bibas cousin, thanked the crowd. “We have a significant voice and let’s make sure no one has to celebrate another birthday in captivity,” she said.

In Jerusalem, the Knesset was lit up in orange to mark Kfir’s birthday, as was the Chords Bridge at the entrance to the city.

Kfir Bibas and his mother Shiri Bibas, who were abducted to Gaza by Hamas terrorists, along with Kfir’s brother Ariel and father Yarden, from Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023. (Courtesy via The Times of Israel)
In Tel Aviv, Shiri Bibas’s cousins read a letter from Yarden’s sister, Ofri Bibas, currently on a mission abroad: “There’s so much we haven’t been able to do with you. Are you speaking any words, are you walking? The biggest gift we could give you would be to bring you home.”

Cousin Yosi Shnaider said a one-year-old should be learning about colors instead of languishing in a dark tunnel, should have books read to him rather than hear the voices of Hamas terrorists.

“They need to be released today and we can’t forget them for one moment. Enough with the sad faces! We need to scream to the heavens that it’s our children and siblings and parents and grandparents there,” said Shnaider.

“I don’t know if Shiri even knows it’s the 18th. But — hold the children tight and we’ll see you soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Isaac Herzog, during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, displayed Kfir’s photo.

Ahead of the birthday event, entertainers, along with several Bibas relatives, recorded a song about Kfir, “They Call Me Gingi,” the Hebrew term for a redhead.

The Kibbutz Nir Oz community on Tuesday put together a typical daycare birthday party, complete with an arch of orange balloons and a cake — all without baby Kfir, his Batman-loving brother Ariel, and their parents.

Instead, the Bibas family and friends posted photos of the birthday party to social media to remind the world that Kfir, Ariel, Shiri and Yarden were brutally taken hostage from their home by Hamas, during the terror group’s rampage across communities near the Gaza border on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were slaughtered and some 240 abducted.

The world is now familiar with the Hamas video that captured Shiri’s look of sheer terror as she gripped her two boys close to her chest.

None of the Bibas family members were freed during a weeklong truce at the end of November, when other hostage mothers and children were set free. At the time, Hamas claimed that Shiri, Ariel and Kfir were being held by another terrorist organization. It later said they had been killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Released hostage Nili Margalit, who spent nearly 50 days in Hamas captivity, revealed that she was with Yarden Bibas when Hamas terrorists told him his wife and two young children had been killed and ordered him to film a video in which he blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to bring their bodies back to Israel.

The IDF has said that the claims made by Hamas regarding the Bibas family have not been verified, and described them as “psychological terror.”

With Kfir Bibas marking the first year of his life while in captivity in Gaza, the wider family is in a state of shock and inertia, said Jimmy Miller, first cousin to Kfir’s mother Shiri.

“We’re like robots now,” Miller told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

“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.” PJC

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