Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Israeli Families of Child Hostages Plead on World Children’s Day


Families of Israeli Children Held Hostage by Hamas Plead for Their Release

On World Children’s Day, families of Israeli children held hostage by Hamas in Gaza gathered outside the UN children’s fund in Tel Aviv to demand their release. The protest comes more than six weeks after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the abduction of around 240 others. Among the hostages, at least 35 are children, with 18 of them aged 10 and under.

The demonstration saw several hundred participants holding Israeli flags, portraits of the children, and stuffed toys. Enormous pictures of the hostages’ names, faces, and ages were projected onto the side of the building housing the offices of UNICEF, the UN children’s agency. Chants of “UN do your job!” echoed through the crowd.

Hadas Kalderon, a mother whose two children have been held in Gaza since October 7, expressed her frustration at the lack of international action. She questioned how it could be that her children and many others are hostages while the world remains silent. Kalderon called out large institutions like UNICEF for their silence and asked, “Where are the rights of my children?”

The rally took place just before the families were scheduled to meet with Israel’s war cabinet amid rumors of a possible hostage deal. Throughout Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel, banners, posters, and stickers calling for the safe return of the hostages can be seen plastered on streets.

During the demonstration, air raid sirens warning of incoming Hamas rockets suddenly interrupted the gathering. Some participants sought shelter while others threw themselves onto the ground for safety.

Yoni Asher, whose two daughters are among the hostages, called on UNICEF to make a public stand about Israeli children, similar to how they specifically refer to babies on the other side. He emphasized that everyone is concerned for the safety of all children and questioned why UNICEF couldn’t express the same sentiment.

Since October 7, Israel has launched relentless attacks on Gaza from the air, land, and sea. Officials in the Hamas-run territory report that at least 13,300 people have been killed, including more than 5,600 children.

The plight of the Israeli children held hostage by Hamas has garnered widespread attention and concern. The families’ plea for their release on World Children’s Day serves as a reminder of the urgent need for international intervention to ensure the safe return of these innocent children.

As the families continue to fight for the release of their loved ones, it is crucial for organizations like UNICEF to fulfill their role in protecting the rights and well-being of all children. The silence from such institutions in the face of this tragedy is disheartening and raises questions about their commitment to their mission.

The rally in Tel Aviv is a powerful display of unity and determination. The families’ voices must be heard, and the international community must take action to bring an end to this hostage crisis. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, free from the horrors of war and captivity.

It is our hope that this demonstration will serve as a catalyst for change, prompting world leaders and organizations to prioritize the release of these innocent children. The time to act is now, and we must not let their cries for help go unanswered.

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