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In Paris, families of Israeli Hamas hostages ask for help from the international community

Sela Ayelet “no longer has tears in [her] body”.

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In Paris, families of Israeli Hamas hostages ask for help from the international community

Sela Ayelet “no longer has tears in [her] body”. She has already paid them all. On October 7, seven members of his family disappeared when Hamas terrorists swept into Israel to sow chaos and assassinate more than 1,400 people, according to authorities in the Jewish state. She lists their first names, heavy dark circles under her eyes: “Shoshan Haran, her daughter Adi, her son-in-law Tal, her sister-in-law Sharon, her sister Lilach. But also three children Yahel, 3 years old, Naveh, 8 years old and Nomas, 12 years old. All were probably kidnapped from Kibbutz Be'eri, in southern Israel, which is located a stone's throw from the Gaza Strip. “The Israeli government does not give absolute priority to the hostages and this is unacceptable,” she said.

A delegation of members representing five Israeli or Franco-Israeli families including hostages met at Paris City Hall on Tuesday, October 31. In France, for the whole world to hear, the hammered message was clear: the hostages must be released. All. There are a total of 230 soldiers, men, women and children, detained in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

The family members took turns speaking. “We must use all possible means to put pressure on Hamas,” began Adva Adar, whose 85-year-old grandmother was kidnapped. I have to promise her that she will not die slowly in Gaza and that she will come home.” To her left, Adva Gutman shows a photo of a woman with a radiant smile. She is carrying a white puppy in her arms. Tamar, his sister, was kidnapped while attending the Nova Festival, the rave party in the Negev desert where at least 260 people were massacred. “We have no proof of life. My sister is sick, she needs to receive care and I don’t even know if she receives it where she is,” she said, tiredly, in her faltering voice.

Daniel Toledano's brother was also kidnapped at the rave party. “He just went to party. I have voice recordings of him asking for help before being trapped by the terrorists. Israeli services tell me he is in Gaza. But there is little chance that he is still alive,” he explains. Olivier, finally, deplores three members of his family still held by Hamas. Among them, Sahar, a teenager whose first name means “moon”. “We don’t dare imagine what [the members of Hamas] do to him. Torture, rapes...,” explains the co-founder of the association October 7, Broken Lives in Israel. Sahar's brother, Erez, 12, is also hostage. Two other of his relatives, from the Kalderon family, were killed: Carmela, 80, and cousin, Noya, 12. “We hope for an immediate release,” he concluded.

In response to a question, these bereaved parents called on non-governmental organizations present in the Gaza Strip to do more. An opinion supported by Amit Becher, the president of the Israeli bar, for whom “the Red Cross is not doing enough”. David Toledano, for his part, demands that NGOs be able to “contact the hostages” to ensure their state of health.

According to them, the international community must, in addition to putting pressure on the terrorist group, put pressure on the “countries that support them”: “Qatar [intermediary country between the West and Hamas in the negotiations to release the hostages and in which leaders of the terrorist group live, Turkey, Iran,” lists Ayelet Sela. Another calls for economic sanctions “against anyone who welcomes or covers the leaders of Hamas.”

They all brushed aside political questions out of hand. Should the Israeli army continue its ground offensive in Gaza at the risk of killing hostages - 50 were killed in Israeli bombings according to Hamas -? “The fight is a way to bring Hamas to its knees. We can’t wait for them to free the hostages on their own,” Olivier said. “The government knows what to do and does what it can, [military issues] do not concern us,” adds David Toledano. Will the government have to resign? What about the pro-Palestinian protests taking place around the world? No answer.

Since the start of the conflict, five hostages have been freed. Two Americans and three Israelis. The release of Ori Megidish, an Israeli soldier, on the night of Sunday to Monday, allowed the authorities to legitimize their land operation in the Palestinian enclave, arguing that the latter is not contradictory - in the short term at least - with the release of the hostages.

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