Dutch Israeli youth released by Hamas after 54 days in captivity

A woman holds a sign identifying Ofir Engel as a hostage. Photo: Fadel Senna AFP

The 18-year-old Israeli youth who was given Dutch nationality after he was kidnapped by Hamas in the October 7 raids has been freed.

“I am thankful and relieved to be able to say that the Dutch youngster Ofir Engel was among the group of hostages released in Gaza,” foreign minister Hanke Bruins Slot said on social media on Wednesday evening.

Ofir Engel, who was 17 when he was taken, is the only one of the 240 hostages to have Dutch nationality. Engel was born in Israel but his grandfather was born in the Netherlands which enabled the fast-track naturalisation to take place, although the actual details remain unclear.

Ofir Engel was taken from the Be’eri kibbutz where he was visiting his girlfriend. The kibbutz is just a few kilometres from Gaza and is one of the first villages attacked by Hamas militants.

Family members said they hoped having Dutch nationality would encourage
the Dutch government to put pressure on Hamas to release the boy and that his
kidnappers may be more inclined to release dual nationals.

According to the AD, Ofir speaks Dutch and has visited relatives in Gelderland several times.

So far 81 hostages have been released by Hamas in return for 180 Palestinian prisoners.

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