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Families Of Israeli Hostages Demand End Of Gaza War In Exchange For Hostage Deal

26.05.2024 01:12

‘The only way to return the hostages is by ending the war,’ say families.

Family members of Israeli hostages in Gaza renewed their calls Saturday to end the war on the Gaza Strip as the "only way" to bring their loved ones home.

The families held a news conference in Tel Aviv shortly after the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, broadcast a video showing images of hostages killed in Israeli bombings in Gaza.

The families read a statement in which they emphasized that "the only way to return the hostages is by ending the war."

"According to recent polls, most Israelis support stopping the war immediately," they said.

Addressing the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they said: "Listen to the public on whose behalf you sit in the seat of power."​​​​​​​

One family member said: "If the government does not sign a deal now (with Hamas), the end of the war will be imposed on Israel without their (the hostages') return, and we will lose them forever."

He added: "The citizens of Israel want, first and foremost, to see the hostages return home."

Addressing the government, he said: "History will judge each one of you. Do not be complicit in the crime of neglecting them, and choose to save lives and bring our loved ones back."

Through mediation by Qatar, Egypt and the US, Hamas and Israel have been for months engaged in stalled indirect negotiations that aim to reach an agreement to exchange hostages and end the war that erupted Oct. 7.

Israel has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians since a cross-border attack by Hamas that claimed less than 1,200 lives with 250 others taken as hostage. Some of the captives were released in exchange for a brief truce and release of Palestinian prisoners in November.

More than seven months into the conflict, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which has mandated Tel Aviv to prevent its forces from committing such acts, and ensure humanitarian aid reaches civilians in Gaza.

In its latest ruling on Friday, the UN court ordered Israel to halt its offensive in the southern city of Rafah, which it started on May 6.

*Writing by Rania Abu Shamala -

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