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“Take them home!” “: a new rally was held in Tel Aviv for the release of hostages in the Gaza Strip

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

According to Israeli authorities, about 240 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza on October 7 in an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli soil that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

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

On Saturday evening in Tel Aviv, anonymous people and families of hostages gathered in “Hostage Square” holding signs reading “They trust us to get them out of hell” or “Bring them home now.”

“We want to push the government to reach (another) agreement for their release,” Eli Eliezer, a relative of the hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, who Israeli authorities now estimate number 137, told participants. “The government’s job is to keep its people and its land safe,” the 61-year-old engineer said.

Free them “at any cost”

In Tel Aviv, on stage, between prayers, songs and speeches, the hostage’s father criticized the government’s actions. “Why aren’t they doing their job? We are asking the Israeli cabinet, the war cabinet, to explain what exactly is on the table,” said Ruby Chen, the father of 19-year-old Itai Chen.

“We demand participation in the negotiation process. Get them out immediately, immediately, no matter the cost,” he demanded.

In the compact crowd, Zvia Bader assured that the release of the hostages “is not an absolute priority” of the government. A woman who runs a health care startup fears the army is sometimes putting hostages in danger during its offensive in the Gaza Strip. “We cannot leave anyone behind,” she said.

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

Israeli bombing in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 attack killed 17,700 people, more than two-thirds of whom were women and people under the age of 18, according to the latest Hamas Health Ministry report. Figures that cannot be verified immediately.

Former hostages testify

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

“I haven’t slept for forty-nine days,” she said. “There were psychological difficulties, there were physical difficulties, and every day it became more and more difficult. »

“Every day seemed like an eternity… Either hunger, or the desire to reunite with my family,” testified 18-year-old Itai Regev, a former hostage.

Source: Le Parisien

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