The families of American citizens who were kidnapped by Hamas militants in Israel nearly 40 days ago are speaking out and urging the international community to bring attention to the plight of their loved ones.
One of the hostages is a 3-year-old American girl named Abigail, who was taken into the Gaza Strip during the Oct. 7 terror attack. The families, joined by thousands of pro-Israel supporters marching in Washington, shared their harrowing experiences and the anguish they feel not knowing the fate of their relatives.
In an exclusive interview, Liz Hirsh Naftali, Abigail’s great-aunt, revealed that the girl’s parents were tragically killed during the attack. Abigail, who was in her father’s arms, witnessed the shooting and managed to crawl out from under her father’s body and seek refuge with a neighbor.
The families know very little about the current situation of the hostages, including their whereabouts and well-being. The uncertainty has caused immense distress for the families, who are desperate for answers and the safe return of their loved ones.
The hostage crisis has left families in profound agony. Orna Neutra, whose son Omer was taken, expressed the unimaginable anguish of not knowing if their loved ones are being tortured or fed. Yael Alexander, another family member, explained the toll it has taken on her physically and emotionally.
Jon Polin emphasized the determination of the families to continue fighting until their relatives are brought back home.
The Israeli government has stated that Hamas militants are believed to be holding 239 hostages. While the exact number of hostages is unknown, the U.S. government has confirmed that nine Americans are still missing after the Oct. 7 attack. Israel and Hamas have been engaged in a war since that day, resulting in thousands of casualties.
The families met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House, where they were assured that President Joe Biden and his administration are fully committed to securing the release of the hostages. The families are hopeful and supportive of any efforts to bring their loved ones back.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated the possibility of a potential deal to release the hostages, but did not provide further details. Netanyahu believes that Israel’s military offensive against Gaza will exert pressure on Hamas and increase the chances of securing their release.
The families maintain hope and eagerly anticipate the safe return of their loved ones. Brett McGurk, Biden’s top Middle East adviser, plans to visit Israel and other countries in the region to discuss the hostage situation and negotiate for their release.
While Hamas has released four hostages for “humanitarian” reasons, the West remains skeptical. Taking hostages is considered a war crime and a violation of international humanitarian law.
The American hostages are not the only captives of foreign nationality. Israeli government reports indicate that 138 of the hostages hold foreign passports from various countries.
Ruby Chen, whose son Itay was kidnapped, expressed the silver lining in the midst of their anguish – the sense of unity and camaraderie among the families. They have become each other’s support system and newfound family.
The families are determined to raise awareness about the plight of their loved ones and seek assistance from the international community in securing their release. They hold onto hope and will not rest until their relatives are safely returned home.