Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a special New Year’s message in which he urged the international community to pressure the Hamas terror group to release hostages held in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7.
“As we enter 2024, I call on the entire family of nations, on all world leaders, to demand and work for the immediate, unconditional release of our 133 hostages,” said Herzog.
“Babies, the elderly, women, men, are being held in brutal captivity by Hamas, without vital medication or visitation from the Red Cross. Their immediate release is at the core of our battle with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
“May the light dispel the darkness, and may the New Year bring peace, hope, and healing for all.”
The post to X, formerly Twitter, was published in Hebrew, English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Hindi, French, German and Portuguese.
Earlier this month, Herzog lit Chanukah candles at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv along with families of captives.
“Chanukah is a holiday of heroism; I want to talk about the heroism of the hostages, of their supreme bravery. I wish to offer them strength. From here we send them love, encouragement, reinforcement and support, and tell them: You will return home safely!” said Herzog.
“Our soldiers are acting with bold determination, heroically, risking and sacrificing their lives to defeat the enemy and to bring the hostages home… I can tell you that there is great unity of purpose, there is a great shared aspiration to return the hostages. There is a huge Israeli effort to return the hostages home,” added the president.
Also in December, Herzog spoke at the opening ceremony of the exhibition “6:29” at the Tel Aviv Expo in memory of those murdered at the Nova Festival on Oct. 7.
The exhibition includes personal belongings of those who fled Hamas’s rampage at the festival, a rave party held about three miles from the Gaza Strip.
Two weeks ago, Israel’s head of state raised eyebrows by adding his name to the ranks of officials speaking out against a two-state solution following the war in Gaza.
“What I want to urge is against just saying ‘two-state solution.’ Why? Because there is an emotional chapter here that must be dealt with. My nation is [grieving]. My nation is in trauma,” Herzog told the Associated Press in a Dec. 14 interview.
Politicians across Israel’s political spectrum, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to opposition leader Yair Lapid, have come out against handing the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinian Authority—a move advocated by the United States as a first step towards a two-state solution.