update deskIsrael at War

Thousands march to Jerusalem calling for release of hostages

The participants included ex-captives and families of hostages still in Gaza.

Thousands of Israelis marched in solidarity with those held captive by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, March 2, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Thousands of Israelis marched in solidarity with those held captive by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, March 2, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

An estimated 20,000 marchers, some of whom completed a four-day trek, arrived at Jerusalem’s Paris Square, near the Prime Minister’s Residence, on Saturday afternoon, where they called for the return of the hostages.

Among the participants were freed hostages, families of hostages still held captive, and thousands of supporters.

Former captives in Gaza Clara Merman, 63, her sister Gabriella Leimberg, 59, and their brother Fernando Merman, 60, launched the event, Ynet reported.

“We were there. We know what it’s like day after day after day. And we also know what it’s like to be here, fighting for their return,” Clara told the crowd. “We came here today to give you strength to keep marching and fighting, so that they’ll come back now.

“Together we will bring everyone back, to the last of the women, to the last of the children and men, the wounded, the soldiers and the murdered,” she said.

Sigi Cohen, mother of hostage Eliya Cohen, 26, who was at the Supernova music festival with his girlfriend on Oct.7, said, “My dream is to see Eliya return soon together with all the abductees and they will see that the suffering they are going through there was not in vain and thanks to them the nation of Israel was united.”

“When we are together, we are strong, and we will defeat any enemy because we are the eternal people,” she said.

Thousands march towards Jerusalem while calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas, March 2, 2024. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Family members of hostages entered the capital singing “Jerusalem of Gold,” Channel 12 reported. They called on the Israeli government to continue the hostage negotiations and save the captives held by Hamas.

However, on Sunday, negotiations reached an impasse when Hamas ignored Israel’s demand that it first receive a list of living hostages before agreeing to send a delegation to Cairo where talks involving Qatar and the U.S. are underway.

“We will not play Hamas’s game. A delegation will not go to Cairo and if it wants to blow up the negotiations, there will be consequences,” said an Israeli official, according to Channel 12.

Israel estimates that around 100 out of 134 hostages in Gaza are still alive. On the third day of the march, participants carried 134 empty stretchers symbolizing each of the captives.

The march began in Kibbutz Re’im on the Gaza border, the site of the music festival where terrorists murdered more than 350 people on Oct. 7. Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists killed some 1,200 people and abducted more than 250 others on that day.

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