Israeli hostage families shout their love to the captives across Gaza fence

The families and friends of hostages stood on the back of a truck, with a microphone rigged to an amplifying system

By Reuters

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Relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas carry pictures of hostages in Kibbutz Nirim along the fence on the Gaza border. — AFP
Relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas carry pictures of hostages in Kibbutz Nirim along the fence on the Gaza border. — AFP

Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 11:25 PM

Relatives of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas stood by the Gaza fence on Thursday, taking turns to shout messages of love and support into a microphone in the hope that the captives would hear them.

Hamas militants who invaded southern Israel from Gaza on October 7 captured 240 hostages of all ages, of whom more than 130 are still being held in the Palestinian enclave bombarded daily by Israeli forces, according to Israeli tallies.

"Omer, can you hear us? It's Ima and Aba," shouted Orna Neutra, mother of 22-year-old hostage Omer Neutra, using the Hebrew words for Mum and Dad.

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"We're here. We're really close to you. We're fighting for you every single day," she shouted, her voice breaking with emotion. She was holding a placard with a picture of her son.

The families and friends of hostages were standing on the back of a truck, with a microphone rigged to an amplifying system. They held pictures of their loved ones and passed the microphone from one person to the next.

Bringing the hostages home is one of Israel's stated war aims in Gaza, and an emotional issue across Israeli society. Pictures of the hostages are ubiquitous on walls, bus stops and shop fronts all over the country.

But despite tireless campaigning by the families, a sense that time is passing while world attention shifts elsewhere has deepened their anguish as hopes have faded for a deal to secure the hostages' release.

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One woman at the fence addressed the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, calling on him to free 83-year-old Oded Lifshitz, whose wife Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, was released in October after two weeks of captivity.

The couple are peace activists and before the war they helped sick Palestinians in Gaza get to hospitals in Israel for treatment.

"Sinwar, Oded Lifshitz is a true friend of the Palestinian people. Sinwar, bring Oded Lifshitz home now," shouted the woman, holding up a picture of the elderly hostage.

Another woman called out the names of multiple members of kibbutz Kfar Aza, one of the worst-hit by the rampage.

"To Gali Berman, come home Gali! To Ziv Berman, come home Ziv! To Keith Segal, come home Keith! To Emily Damari, come home Emily!" she shouted.

"We won't stop and we won't stand back until everyone returns home! Everyone! Everyone! Everyone!"


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