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Friday, November 10, 2023, 17:15
Hostage families appeal for return of loved ones in Gaza ceasefire
By Jan Yumul in Hong Kong
Friday, November 10, 2023, 17:15 By Jan Yumul in Hong Kong

Consul General of the State of Israel in Hong Kong and Macao SARs Amir Lati listens in on a video conference as the families of Hamas hostages speak with journalists on Nov 9, 2023. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Frustrated relatives of Israeli hostages believed to be held by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) have appealed to the international community and Israel’s government for a “cease-fire that would bring families back home”.

A video briefing by families of some of the hostages was organized by the Consulate General of Israel in Hong Kong on Nov 9, a month after the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct 7.

According to the consulate, more than 240 Israelis and foreign nationals, including babies and Holocaust survivors, are being held captive.

However, earlier reports citing Hamas said some hostages had died in the Israeli bombings of Gaza.

All of the families on the video call were of hostages taken from the Nir Oz kibbutz in southern Israel.

Before the attack, Nir Oz had a population of 400 people. The attack reportedly killed 24 kibbutz members and at least 74 were taken hostage by Hamas militants, including many children, women, and elderly. Two elderly members of the kibbutz, Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nurit Cooper, 79, were later released.

Adva Adar, whose grandmother Yafa was kidnapped on Oct 7, reiterated the families’ appeal to governments – including Israel’s and China’s – to do “whatever they can” for the safe return of their families. Her cousin Tamir has also been missing since the attack on the kibbutz on Oct 7

Most kibbutz members have been staying in a hotel in Eilat since being evacuated.

Many of them are waiting for the conflict’s outcome before deciding whether to return but others, especially those with young families, cannot imagine returning to the kibbutz with their children, according to the consulate.

Six members of Moran Alony’s family were kidnapped by Hamas: his sisters Sharon and Danielle, along with Sharon’s husband David and their 3-year-old twins Emma and Julie, and Danielle’s 5-year-old daughter Emilia.

ALSO READ: Journalists, aid workers fall victim in Gaza

“I don’t see TV all the time. It’s too much sometimes. But I think that we as civilians and family members would like to see our government and the world doing everything to get our families back,” Alony said.

He claimed he had not heard about “an offer that would promise me my family back” and questioned the earlier release of hostages.

“No one asked why these specific people got released. I’m very happy that they got released but this talk of cease-fire or other gestures … It’s kind of a complex situation to be in,” said Alony.

“I’m a peaceful person. My family are peaceful people. We don’t (want to) see anyone get hurt on both sides,” he added.

Moran Alony holds a poster featuring photos of family members he believes are being held by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Adva Adar, whose grandmother Yafa was kidnapped on Oct 7, reiterated the families’ appeal to governments – including Israel’s and China’s – to do “whatever they can” for the safe return of their families. Her cousin Tamir has also been missing since the attack on the kibbutz on Oct 7.

“I don’t want any civilians to get hurt, any kids. Not the kids in Gaza, not the kids in Israel,” Adar said. 

“But you can’t talk about humanitarian supply and humanitarian support without talking about humanitarian (needs) for our hostages,” she said, as she expressed frustration over not having been given any proof of life from her missing family.

“I think that if you want to talk about humanitarian supply and cease-fire, you should also mention the humanitarian needs of our families and you also need to mention that the cease-fire should help us bring them back home,” Adar said. “There’s two sides of this equation.”

ALSO READ: Israel to intensify fighting in Gaza despite humanitarian pause

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his position in a meeting with security officials on Nov 8.

“There will be no cease-fire without the release of our hostages,” said Netanyahu, according to a statement from his office.

Adva Adar holds up a poster featuring an image of her grandmother Yafa during the video briefing on Nov 9, 2023. Yafa is believed to have been taken hostage on Oct 7, 2023. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Also on Nov 8, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the fatality toll reported by the Ministry of Health in Gaza since the start of the conflict stood at 10,569, with 67 percent said to be children and women.

Some 2,450 others, including 1,350 children, have been reported missing. They may be trapped or dead under the rubble.

About 1,400 Israelis have been killed since the Oct 7 attacks by Hamas.

At a press briefing on Nov 8, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that China was “deeply saddened by the civilian deaths on both sides in the conflict”.

“It is heart-wrenching to see the humanitarian catastrophe worsening in Gaza. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians should become targets of armed attack or collective punishment. Violence does not bring true security. The use of force will not create lasting peace,” said Wang.

READ MORE: Rafah crossing between Gaza, Egypt closed over security

“To get detained civilians released, protect the safety and security of civilians and civilian facilities, open up humanitarian aid corridors, and resume dialogue and negotiation is both the responsibility of the parties concerned and the goal that the international community must strive for,” he added.

jan@chinadailyapac.com

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