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Israeli families demand release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meets with families demanding hostages' release.

In a heartfelt and urgent plea for the release of their loved ones, family members of hostages held captive by Hamas and other groups in Gaza met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today. Frustration and concern were palpable as they demanded a deal to secure the safe return of those held hostage.

The meeting came on the heels of a recent protest in Tel Aviv, where thousands gathered to express their outrage over the accidental shooting and tragic death of three Israeli hostages by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza. The revelation of this devastating incident only intensified the anguish felt by the families.

Among those present at the meeting was Ruby Chen, the father of Itay Chen, one of the Israeli-American citizens still being held captive by Hamas in Gaza. Describing the gathering as a more intimate setting that allowed for a constructive conversation, Ruby conveyed the families' concerns after 74 long days with no sign of life from their loved ones. He emphasized the urgency of the situation, especially with Christmas approaching, and appealed for prayers and support.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu proved attentive and understanding of the agony the families were enduring. He committed to doing everything within his power to secure the release of all the hostages. Ruby and the other families made it clear that the responsibility for their loved ones' captivity rested with the Israeli government and urged the Prime Minister to prioritize their safe return.

The Israeli government has publicly stated two goals: the destruction of Hamas and the release of all the hostages. However, there are concerns that the focus on dismantling Hamas may have impeded the progress towards securing the hostages' release. Ruby acknowledged the importance of Israel's broader objectives but stressed the need for swift action to bring the kidnapped civilians home alive.

The tragic incident on Friday, where three hostages were mistakenly killed by IDF troops, further compounded the families' anguish. Ruby expressed indescribable emotions upon witnessing the soldiers' efforts to identify themselves as hostages yet tragically falling short. He also highlighted the initial delay in releasing the names of the deceased, which only intensified the families' anguish.

As a dual Israeli-American citizen, Itay's father called for additional support from the United States government to aid in his son's release. He mentioned that last week, he and other families met with President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken, receiving assurances of their commitment to the safe return of the hostages. Ruby acknowledged that while the United States is actively engaged in the matter, there remain questions about what more can be done and the role of the international community.

As the families continue to endure the distress of having their loved ones held captive for a considerable period, they appeal for escalated efforts from both the Israeli and U.S. governments. Their hope is for the safe return of the hostages, to bring an end to the suffering that has impacted not only them but also the entire nation.

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