newsOctober 7

Tens of thousands rally in Tel Aviv for release of hostages

One hundred thirty-six captives remain in Gaza, 100 days after being kidnapped; a deal to deliver medicine to those still alive has been struck.

People attend 24-hour rally for hostages marking 100 days since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
People attend 24-hour rally for hostages marking 100 days since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, at "Hostage Square" in Tel Aviv, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Tens of thousands of Israelis poured into “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to join the families of those held captive by Hamas in Gaza for a 24-hour vigil to mark 100 days since they were abducted and demand their return.

Organizers said that an estimated 120,000 people attended the opening hours of the event at the plaza outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which began after sundown and included a recorded speech by French President Emmanuel Macron and an in-person address by U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jacob Lew, who pledged to expend every effort to free the captives.

“We will do everything to bring everyone home; you can count on me,” Macron said. “The French nation is determined that … all the hostages of the October 7 terrorist attacks are freed. France does not abandon its children. That is why we have to resume negotiations again and again for their release.”

Franco-Mexican tourist Orión Hernández Radoux, 32, is among the hostages still held in Gaza. Terrorists kidnapped him from the Supernova music festival on Oct. 7.

The demonstration at “Hostage Square” near the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Jan. 14, 2024. Photo by Amelie Botbol.

“Today, as we mark 100 days since hundreds of innocent men, women and children were violently seized from Israel, we join as one in demanding their release,” Lew said.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jacob J. Lew speaks at a rally calling for the release of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at “Hostage Square” in Tel Aviv, Jan. 13, 2024. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot also sent a video message that was broadcast at the rally.

“One hundred days without them, and it’s impossible to imagine—you are heroes and we all will do what we can to bring them home, there’s no other option,” she said from her home in Los Angeles.

According to official figures in Israel, around 136 hostages remain in Gaza, although dozens are believed to be dead. Hamas kidnapped some 240 people during its invasion of the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, in which terrorists murdered around 1,200 civilians and soldiers and wounded thousands more.

Israel secured an agreement with Qatar on Friday to deliver medicine to the hostages. Doha was supplied with the medicine on Saturday night, according to a list provided by Israel. The medicine is slated to be handed over to the Red Cross or another third party for delivery into Gaza.

The Red Cross has failed to visit any of the hostages being held by Hamas.

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum, a group representing relatives of the captives that organized the rally, said it would demand “visual proof” that the medicine reached the hostages.

As part of the deal, medicine will also be allowed to enter the Strip for Palestinians, with the Hamas terror group saying that the Gazans will be given priority. “Some medicine will be used to treat Israeli prisoners,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas terrorist leader in Lebanon said, according to France 24.

Separately, eight protesters demanding a deal for the release of the hostages were arrested for blocking the southbound lanes of the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. The rally organizers stressed that they were not associated with the official event.

Israeli corporations, universities and retail chains halted their operations for 100 minutes starting at 11 a.m., in support of the families of the hostages still captive in Gaza.

Other initiatives are scheduled to take place on Sunday including mass cycling solidarity rides organized by the Israel-Premier Tech professional cycling team, together with the Hostage and Missing Families Forum and the Israel Cycling Federation.

A total of one million bells will sound in many countries on Jan. 14, including Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Brazil, the Philippines and India, at exactly 4 p.m. Jerusalem time.

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