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20 July, 2024
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Hostage families urgently plead for release in Parliament chaos

Lawmakers confronted by families seeking freedom


In a gripping display of anguish, relatives of Israelis held captive by Palestinian gunmen stormed a Jerusalem parliamentary committee on Monday, urging lawmakers to intensify efforts to free their loved ones.

As Reuters reports, this emotional plea unfolds in the fourth month of the Gaza war against Hamas, as 130 hostages remain in captivity following a November truce that brought some relief but left many families in distress.

The chaos erupted as around 20 protesters, including a woman holding pictures of three family members seized in the October 7 Hamas rampage, pushed into the Knesset Finance Committee discussion. "Just one I'd like to get back alive, one out of three!" cried the woman, capturing the desperation of those affected. Signs held by other protesters read, "You will not sit here while they die there," accompanied by chants of "Release them now, now, now!"

International mediation efforts by the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt face significant challenges, with Israel's determination to destroy Hamas conflicting with the group's demand for widespread Palestinian releases. The fate of the hostages, with 27 reported dead in Gaza, remains a focal point for the nation, although concerns about war fatigue impacting public focus have surfaced. What initially began as demonstrations fostering national unity has evolved into more aggressive calls for action.

Outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence and the Knesset building, families and supporters have set up camps, declaring they won't leave until the hostages are back. Regular weekend rallies demanding release have gained momentum, further fueled by calls for an election to challenge the current hard-right government.

The political landscape, which briefly set aside rifts after the 2023 Hamas attack, is now shaken again with the prolonged war in Gaza and dwindling support for Netanyahu.

Thousands took to the streets in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem on Saturday night, calling for an election and briefly blocking a highway in Tel Aviv.

In the Knesset on Monday, where parliamentary ushers initially attempted to block the protesting families, chaos ensued during the Finance Committee session.

Chairman Moshe Gafni, from an ultra-Orthodox Jewish party in Netanyahu's coalition, halted the ongoing economic briefing to address the urgent need to redeem captives in Judaism. However, he added that quitting the coalition would not achieve anything.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, addressing hostage families, rejected Hamas' conditions presented a day earlier. He emphasized that there is no real proposal by Hamas, stating, "I am saying this as clearly as I can because there are so many incorrect statements which are certainly agonizing for you."

Outside Netanyahu's house on Azza Street, named after Gaza in Hebrew, The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum initiated a vigil, urging the advancement of a swap deal.

Their statement conveyed a demand for leadership transparency, stating, "If the prime minister decides to sacrifice the hostages, he should show leadership and honestly share his position with the Israeli public." The nation remains on edge as the plea for the release of hostages takes center stage.

[With information sourced from Reuters]

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