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Families of hostages held in Gaza call for collective action

The families held a virtual press conference on Friday, noting that it's been nearly 200 days since their loved ones were taken captive.
Families of hostages held in Gaza call for collective action
Posted at 11:38 AM, Apr 19, 2024

As Jews around the world prepare to celebrate Passover, the families of hostages held in Gaza are calling on the world to help rescue their loved ones. 

"This is not a monolithic, homogeneous group of people," said Rachel Goldberg, whose son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7. "These are people who are from 25 different nations. And I would like to ask, Where are the leaders of those specific 25 nations that have civilians, have citizens who are being held still in Gaza?"

Goldberg was one of several parents who were part of a virtual press conference on Friday, noting that it's been nearly 200 days since their loved ones were taken captive. 

More than 130 hostages are unaccounted for in Gaza; several of them are believed to be Americans. Israeli and U.S. officials have been unable to verify their conditions.

"We just don't have the ability to know the individual condition of any one hostage," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said this week. "So, we're obviously doing the best we can to try to gain as much information as we can."

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Several of the families spoke highly of the Biden administration's continued communication about the progress to get the hostages released. 

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, whose son Sagui was taken from his kibbutz on Oct. 7, noted that the families have been critical of the Israeli government but added that there was a recent breakthrough when Israel proposed a deal to Hamas that would see the release of the hostages in exchange for Palestinians who have been incarcerated in Israel. 

Dekel-Chen said Hamas is the one that should be intensely scrutinized for not accepting the deal.

"I think the world's frustration has to be at this point not on the Netanyahu government as much as on Hamas," he said.

Dekel-Chen added that Hamas should be forced to answer why it keeps rejecting proposals for a cease-fire to return the hostages. 

"What is the world community willing to do to get Hamas to get to the answer that is not 'No'?" he said.

Hamas said it rejected the deal because it wants a permanent cease-fire and Israeli troops to leave Gaza. Netanyahu has refused to withdraw from Gaza until Hamas is eliminated.

The stalemate leaves the families in limbo, hoping for a resolution — for them and the people of Gaza.

"We're completely aware and feel the need for relief for the citizens of Gaza. They're our neighbors, and one day perhaps there can be peace," Dekel-Chen said. "What we also know is that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are the perpetrators of the massacre on October 7. They are the reason for us all having to gather here and for the immense suffering that our region has experienced. 

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