newsIsrael at War

‘Bring them back now’: Israeli families call for return of Hamas hostages

Relatives of Israelis held in Gaza demand international pressure on Hamas to allow the Red Cross to verify their condition.

Karina Ariev, who was abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
Karina Ariev, who was abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

As the Israeli military activated hundreds of thousands of reservists in preparation for an all-out assault on the Hamas terrorist organization, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi on Oct. 14 told reporters that “Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that it has vowed to wipe from the face of the earth.”

Karina Ariev, 19, was among at least 199 people taken hostage by Hamas during its deadly assault on Oct. 7, which left at least 1,400 people dead and more than 3,500 wounded. She had been serving in the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division base near the Gaza border for a year.

In a video released by Hamas and aired on CNN, Karina can be seen, bloodied and screaming, on the back of a Hamas truck filled with armed terrorists in the process of kidnapping her into Gaza.

JNS recently spoke with her sister, Sasha Ariev, 24, from Jerusalem.

“On Saturday and as she finished her shift at the base, my sister was abducted by Hamas. She was unarmed, in pajamas, in a bomb shelter with other soldiers,” said Ariev. “She called me at 6:30 a.m. to tell me that terrorists were there and that she could hear them outside of the bomb shelter,” she recalled. “We later found a video on Telegram in which we were able to identify my sister and two other girls in a truck with Hamas terrorists. You could tell she was wounded.”

Ariev called on the international community to pressure Hamas into allowing the Red Cross to establish the hostages’ identities and conditions.

“Bring them back now, you can resume all the political discussions and continue your military conflict afterwards for as long as you want, but we need our loved ones back home safe and sound,” she said.

Leah Goldin, the mother of Lt. Hadar Goldin, whose remains are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, attends a press conference, Aug. 5, 2018. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

‘A breach of humanitarian law’

Leah Goldin’s son Hadar, a lieutenant in the IDF Givati Brigade, was killed in a firefight with Gaza terrorists in 2014. His remains were taken back to Gaza and have yet to be returned.

“These families are in agony and I understand them,” she told JNS. “It’s the same agony [we feel.] Regardless of the fact that Hadar fell in combat, he was still abducted. … My message to those whose loved ones have been kidnapped is a message of unity. We are all in this together,” she said.

Too many people equate freeing the hostages with releasing thousands of captured terrorists, but it does not have to be this way, said Goldin.

“What Hamas is doing is a breach of humanitarian law, and there should be no ceasefire, no sitting for talks unless every single hostage, including Hadar, is returned to their family,” she said.

While the Israeli military has informed at least 199 families of the kidnapping of their loved ones, according to Hanegbi the identity and the status of some are still unknown.

Among those identified is Inbar Haiman, 28, from Haifa, who was kidnapped at the Supernova music festival, an all-night psychedelic trance rave in Re’im, a tiny kibbutz three miles east of the Gaza border.

‘They have nothing to do with this conflict’

Early Saturday morning, and shortly after a Hamas rocket barrage set off sirens at the festival site, terrorists arrived on motorcycles, pickup trucks, jeeps and cars, and even by paraglider. They methodically murdered the panicked and fleeing festival attendees. At least 260 people were killed and many were taken back to Gaza, including Haiman.

Noam Alon, Haiman’s partner, shared her story with JNS.

“We posted a description of Inbar’s outfit on social media and received the name of two men who were with her there. Together, they hid under the stage, but it quickly became clear that it wasn’t safe to stay there. They started running together, for a few miles. Terrorists were chasing them and getting dangerously close to Inbar. One of the men tried to deter the terrorists by hitting him with a wooden stick he’d found. Inbar froze and was grabbed by other terrorists on a motorbike and taken into Gaza,” he said.

Alon was later able to identify his girlfriend, bleeding, likely unconscious but clearly alive, in a video released by Hamas. He now is working hard with Haiman’s parents to get her out alive.

“We need the government to do everything they can to return the hostages. All of them—children, women, the elderly, and, of course, Inbar. They are civilians, they have nothing to do with this conflict. All she did was go to a peace festival. I just want to know that Inbar is safe. I just want her back,” he said.

Inbar Haiman, abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7, and her boyfriend Noam Alon. Credit: Courtesy.

Shira Havron, a 27-year-old student from Tel Aviv who was in London during the massacre and whose grandfather was among the founders of Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the communities hardest hit during the Oct. 7 massacre, lost 11 family members—one was killed, the others were taken by Hamas.

“I’m meeting E.U. representatives and others who we believe have the power to help us bring our family home,” she told JNS. “We ask them to put pressure on world leaders, anyone who’s relevant to the issue, and specifically get the Red Cross to meet with the hostages,” she said.

“We want a sign of life because it’s been more than a week and we have no information. I plan to continue to work and tell my family’s story as a representative of my own family, Kibbutz Be’eri and all of the kidnapped people’s families. Keep this topic on the agenda. Help me bring my family home,” she added.

However, Chuck Freilich, a former Israeli deputy national security adviser and a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, told JNS that while he believes the government of Israel will do whatever it can to save those abducted and will factor them into how it conducts ground operations in Gaza, the country cannot allow itself to be held hostage. 

The hostage crisis in Israel has also become an international affair of vast proportions. U.S. President Biden met with the families of American hostages held in Gaza, telling them “we’re working like hell” to get them out, according to CNN.

While Reuters has reported that Qatari mediators are reportedly involved in negotiations towards the hostages’ release, a senior Israeli official had previously confirmed to JNS that Israel is not involved in any negotiations.

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