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'Bring them home!': New rally in Tel Aviv for the release of hostages held in Gaza

2023-12-09T22:29:19.856Z

Highlights: Several hundred people gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to call for the release of hostages still held by Hamas. Some 137 Israelis and dual nationals remain prisoners in the Palestinian enclave. 105 hostages, including 80 Israelis, were freed as part of a seven-day truce agreement between Hamas and Israel in late November. Hamas, however, has ruled out releasing any more hostages until a permanent ceasefire is reached."Every day seemed like an eternity... Whether it's hunger, the desire to be reunited with one's family," said one former hostage.


Some 137 Israelis and dual nationals remain prisoners in the Palestinian enclave. Their families blame the government for


They live without news of their loved ones, waiting unbearable to find out if they are still alive. Several hundred people gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to call for the release of hostages still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an AFP journalist said.

About 240 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza on 7 October in an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli soil that killed 1,200 people, the majority of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

In late November, 105 hostages, including 80 Israelis, were freed as part of a seven-day truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Hamas, however, has ruled out releasing any more hostages until a permanent ceasefire is reached.

Read also"At every meal, there is an empty chair": the unbearable anguish of the families of Israeli hostages

On Saturday night in Tel Aviv, anonymous people and families of hostages gathered in "Hostage Square" carrying signs with messages such as "They trust us to get them out of hell" and "Bring them home now."

"We want to push the government to make a (another) deal to release them," Eli Eliezer, a relative of the hostages still held in Gaza, currently estimated at 137 by Israeli authorities, told participants. "It is the government's job to ensure the security of its people and its land," the 61-year-old engineer said.

Liberating them 'whatever the cost'

In Tel Aviv, on stage, between prayers, songs and speeches, the father of a hostage criticized the government's action. "Why aren't they doing their job? We ask the Israeli cabinet, the war cabinet, to explain exactly what is on the negotiating table," said Ruby Chen, the father of 19-year-old Itay Chen.

"We demand to be part of the negotiation process. Get them out now, immediately, no matter the cost," he demanded.

VIDEO. Hamas hostages: French-Israeli Mia Schem freed, her mother breaks down in tears

In the packed crowd, Tzvia Bader, assured that the release of the hostages was "not the absolute priority" of the government. The head of a health start-up fears that the army may have put hostages at risk during its offensive in Gaza. "We can't leave anyone behind," she said.

Earlier on Saturday, the Hostage Families Forum and Kibbutz Beeri announced the death of 25-year-old Sahar Baruch, who was "murdered" by his captors. The day before, Hamas reported his death during an attempt by the Israeli army to save him.

Israeli shelling in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the October 7 attack killed 17,700 people, more than two-thirds of them women and people under the age of 18, according to the latest toll from Hamas' Health Ministry. These figures are not immediately verifiable.

Ex-hostages testify

In a video testimony played at the rally, freed hostage Margalit Moses, 77, said she was taken to a tunnel under Gaza, where one of her Hamas guards confiscated a machine she used to help her breathe at night.

Read alsoSome have "not seen the light of day": hunger, mental torture... A look back at the 50 days of Hamas hostages' captivity

"I didn't sleep for 49 days," she said. "There were psychological difficulties, there were physical difficulties, and with each passing day it became more and more difficult."

"Every day seemed like an eternity... Whether it's hunger, the desire to be reunited with one's family," said Itay Regev, 18, a former hostage.

Source: leparis

All news articles on 2023-12-09

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