Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Brussels on Wednesday to urge European parliamentarians to unite against Hamas terrorism and demand the release of the captives held in the Gaza Strip.
“I ask you to be united in your demand for the immediate release of the hostages,” Cohen told E.U. lawmakers as he spoke alongside some of the families of Israelis in Hamas captivity.
Israel’s war to destroy Hamas is “the war of the free world,” Cohen told E.U. lawmakers, charging Iran, “the world’s No. 1 financer of terror,” with backing the Oct. 7 massacre in the northwestern Negev.
“You have the power to exert pressure for the release of my son Tzachi and the other hostages,” said the mother of Tzachi Idan, 51, who was kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Oct. 7. “Humanitarian aid only in exchange for the release of the hostages.”
The gathering at the European Parliament started with a minute of silence for victims who were brutally murdered by Hamas.
Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault was the worst one-day loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. More than 7,000 people, mostly civilians, were wounded in the massacre, and more than 240 were taken to the Gaza Strip as hostages.
“I arrived at the European Parliament together with the families of some of the hostages to demand that the European Union acts to release all the hostages. We started the event with a minute of silence in memory of the 1,400 people murdered in the terrible massacre of the 7th of October,” Cohen said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
As part of his visit to Brussels, Israel’s top diplomat also held closed-door meetings with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Metsola and von der Leyen visited Israel on Oct. 13.
“We are here with a message of solidarity after the worst terrorist attack Israel has suffered in years. Terror will not prevail. How we respond matters. We can and must stop Hamas and do what we can to mitigate the humanitarian consequences,” Metsola said at the time.
Earlier this week, von der Leyen stated at a press conference that “there can be no long-term Israeli security presence in Gaza” as the coastal enclave is “an essential part of any future Palestinian state.”