Who gets on the hostage release list? – opinion

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Friday afternoon, when I started to see the first group of hostages who were released GazaSuddenly I received a screenshot of a conversation between two strangers.

The first man said in Hebrew, “Have you heard any news?” He wrote.

“They’re not on the list,” replied the second man.

I was struck with great emotional pain when I realized what this exchange meant.

As the entire country waits for the release of the listed hostages, families who are still reeling are waiting to see what will happen to their loved ones.

Israeli families held hostage by Hamas militants in Gaza protested at the gates of the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. (Credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Help waiting for the release of loved ones

Consider how much it can be if you have no control over the release of your loved one, and it is a terrorist organization – along with the governments of Israel, America, Egypt and Qatar – that decides whether or not your loved one is eligible for immediate release. It must be the most helpless feeling in the world.

The current hostage deal allows for the release of up to 300 Palestinian prisoners and a total of 98 Israeli hostages. But it does not include provisions for the release of Israeli men and soldiers, including five women serving in the IDF, held by Hamas. The main focus of the agreement is on the release of civilian women and children.


Still, the media is reporting complexities on the list of Gaza hostages expected to be released in the next round. The Israeli press believes that the delay is due to another violation by Hamas of the section of the agreement regarding the non-separation of families.

At the time of writing, two hostages released by Hamas had been separated from their families: Hila Shoshani (13) was separated from her mother Raya Shoshani. And Maya Regev (21), who was shot at a music festival and kidnapped, is separated from her brother Itai, who remains in Gaza.

The way the Israeli hostages were released shows the brutality of Hamas and the psychological games the terrorist organization plays. Even watching the footage of the kidnappers is saddening to the entire nation.

Now we know the names of each. We see their faces on posters everywhere and remember the horrible way they were abducted. For example, Maya Regev is on the phone with her father screaming about her life, telling him that she loves him and that a Hamas terrorist shot him.

There is Thomas Hand, the father of nine-year-old Emily Hand, whose daughter was initially reported dead. Many of us have seen the CNN interview where Thomas said he smiled when he found out his daughter was killed because for him it was a better outcome than knowing his daughter was in Gaza. I think very few people can understand the level of pain he went through.

While we are witnessing the release of many hostages, we are remembering more than 100 people who are currently in the custody of Hamas, some of whom do not know what their fate is. I saw the video of Aviatar David, 22, who was abducted by Hamas from the Supernova music festival. Hamas filmed David and three other men in a dark room, on the floor, handcuffed.

The videographer shines a light on their faces so their families can recognize them. This is the video that David’s family received when they learned of his kidnapping. Imagine a message from an unknown number containing a video of your missing brother handcuffed to the floor in a dark room.

Currently, David is not on the list of hostages set to be released.

Earlier in the week, Gaza’s networks erupted into heated debate over the hostage deal, with some Gazans protesting the Israeli release and calling on Hamas to “protect valuable assets”.

Shiri Bibas, an Israeli woman, posted a photo of her two children (many people recognize their red hair) saying, “They are not allowed to leave Gaza.” One of Shiri’s children, Kfir, is only 10 months old, but the Gazans who write these messages have labeled him a “valuable asset,” so the Bibas family is not ready to leave.

We can’t forget Avera’s reign, which didn’t make any headlines, but whose release is just as important. Mengstu H/Maryam is an Ethiopian-Israeli who suffers from mental illness and was admitted to the Gaza Strip in September 2014 in a room. The Israelis who were guarding the fence at the time saw the government near the security fence and allowed him to pass without realizing that they were Israeli citizens.

They found out it was too late and the kingdom was already on the fence. He has been imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza for over nine years. The family must be in great pain, they spend all this time trying to get their son back, and they have to go on the list again.

On Israel’s end, I believe it all boils down to a careful balancing act of whether the hostages should be released first. I also have no doubt that the armed terrorist group is doing everything possible to perpetuate unimaginable brutality because the only real power they have against us is psychological warfare.

I can’t imagine the pain the families of the hostages are going through in all of this. Especially those who still do not know if their relatives will be included in the list. Imagine the paralyzing feeling of having a friend or family member’s “worth” defined by strangers in these realms.

When a hostage situation happens, we have to approach everything with extreme sensitivity and we can’t stop talking about the hostages. Not until every single Israelite hostage is returned to their land.

The writer is a social media activist with over 10 years of experience working for Israeli and Jewish issues and cause-based NGOs. She is the creative founder and COO of Social Lite, a digital marketing firm specializing in geopolitics.

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