UPDATE: ANOTHER Filipino worker died in Israel, the fourth Filipino identified as killed by Hamas militants in their daring attacks in southern Israel last October 7, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.
“I regret to inform the nation that we have received confirmation from the Israeli government of another casualty in Israel,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo tweeted.
The victim is a Filipina caregiver whose last place of work was in Kibbutz Be’eri, DFA Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said. She is one of the three Filipinos declared missing from the attacks.
This leaves to two the number of Filipinos who are still missing in Israel.
Israel Ambassador to Manila Ilan Fluss said they are now assuming that the two missing Filipinos have been taken as hostages by Hamas.
“We are assuming they are kidnapped. We are awaiting for confirmations,” Fluss told BusinessMirror in an exclusive interview.
The details of the death of the fourth Filipino victim were not disclosed — whether she was taken hostage or shot dead.
Survivors from Kibbutz Be’eri told CNN that their village is located only a few kilometers away from Gaza border and have been used to frequent Hamas targets coming from the enclave. But on October 7, Hamas militants stormed Be’eri and murdered more than 120 of its residents including children. Some were kidnapped. Houses were also set on fire.
Ambassador Fluss explained that the number of fatalities from the October 7 attacks continue to rise as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have yet to recover all the bodies massacred at different sites.
At present, there are 1,400 people who died in southern Israel and due to the “massive scale of the attacks, so many burned bodies, it is so difficult to identify the bodies and put things in order.”
The envoy could not say whether such was the case of the fourth Filipino when Business Mirror pressed him to provide more details.
The identity of the Filipina caregiver is being withheld out of respect for the wishes of the family, Secretary Manalo said.
2 missing Filipinos
Twelve days after the attack, Ambassador Fluss said it is possible that two other missing Filipinos in Israel have already been taken as hostages.
IDF estimates there are 199 hostages taken by Hamas militants from southern Israel.
Fluss lamented that until now there is no communication between the hostages and their families. The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been given access yet to the hostages in Gaza Strip.
DFA Undersecretary De Vega also said Wednesday that the two missing Filipinos “may have been kidnapped but we don’t know for sure.”
Financial assistance to 4 Filipinos victims of terror
Fluss said all the families of four Filipino victims of the October 7 attacks will be joining the “Family of the Victims of Terror.”
“Unfortunately, this is a big number (of families of terror victims). This is unprecedented. It is important to say that we will give the (families of Filipino victims) the same support as the Israelis would receive. No discrimination,” Fluss said.
As such, the families of the four Filipino victims will be entitled to “generous compensation” which includes the National Insurance, education for all their children left behind, health care for spouses or spouses, and funeral expenses. He said all the four OFWs are documented workers, this is why they covered by Israel’s National Insurance.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said the families of four OFWs will also receive financial assistance, i.e. P200,000 cash and P20,000 for funeral expenses.
Image credits: AP/Hatem Ali