Israelis demand the release of Hamas hostages at moving Hanukkah vigil

Hanukkah candles for the innocents kidnapped by Hamas: Israelis who endured horrors of captivity after their kibbutz was massacred on October 7 light flames and demand the release of all remaining hostages

  • A mother and daughter who were released by Hamas joined the Hanukkah vigil 

Israelis who were taken from their homes and lost loved ones on October 7 before enduring the horrors of captivity have lit candles for Hanukkah as they called on Hamas to release all remaining hostages.

A moving vigil was held on the fourth night of Hanukkah in Kibbutz Shefayim, central Israel, and was attended by people displaced by the atrocities, which saw homes burned and around 1,200 massacred.

Among those taken hostage was Chen Goldstein-Almog, a mother-of-four who was dragged into Gaza before being released last month, along with three of her children.

The fourth – 20-year-old Yam – and Chen’s husband Nadav, were murdered in front of her by the terrorists as they stormed Kibbutz Kfar Aza. 

Families and friends of those still being held by Hamas have called for them to be freed as a matter of urgency, with angry Israelis continuing to pressure the government to negotiate their release as the war drags on.

Released hostages Agam (2nd L) and her mother Chen Goldstein (L) join members of Kibbutz Kfar Aza lighting the fourth Hanukkah candle as they call for the release of hostages

Agam Goldstein-Almog, a hostage released as part of a temporary ceasefire deal hugs other community member from Kibbutz Kfar Aza

There were smiles at the emotional Hanukkah celebration, where members of a community struck by Hamas gathered

Agam, a hostage freed by Hamas, was comforted by her mother as she spoke at the Hanukkah event

Community members who survived the bloodshed and escaped Kibbutz Kfar Aza gathered with Chen and her daughter Agam, 17, to light the Hanukkah candle on Sunday night.

The pair were seen embracing friends after a horrific few weeks, with many of those attending the sombre event appearing emotional as they comforted each other.

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lit candles alongside the families of hostages held in Gaza.

‘I told the families after our very moving conversation that I hope the lights of Hanukkah will light up the coming days and we will get to see all of the children and parents and women and grandfathers and grandmothers coming home,’ Gallant said in a statement.

‘We are with you in this difficult and extremely tense time, giving you strength and working as determinedly as possible to try and bring them home soon, and alive — everyone,’ he added.

At another Hanukkah vigil on Saturday, those demonstrating demanded that the government ramp up talks with Hamas to free hostages ‘now’.

Families of those missing were seen crying as they lit candles at a table laid out with empty chairs for those unable to be there to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Chen Goldstein-Almog, a hostage released as part of a temporary ceasefire deal hugs other community members from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which was hit hard following the deadly October 7 attack

The vigil took place at the square in front of Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has been renamed Hostage Square, and saw supporters joining chants calling for the hostages’ release.

READ MORE: Netanyahu says ‘it is the beginning of the end’ for Hamas as dozens of terrorists give themselves up 

Many shed tears as they lit Shabbat candles. Among them was Debi Paz, 64, whose friend’s 18-year-old daughter, Liri Albag, is among those still in Gaza.

‘I am hoping for a miracle. I come here every day – we don’t know what to do. 64 days we are waiting.

‘She is only a child – she had been in the army for one month. These people are animals. Worse than animals, they are devils.’

Israel declared war following the sickening October 7 attack by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, which saw 1,200 people killed and around 240 dragged back to Gaza as hostages.

Over 100 women and children being held by Hamas were released during a weeklong cease-fire late last month, but now concerns are mounting that any chance of a fresh truce is slipping away.

Hopes for a new ceasefire are fading as mediator Qatar said on Sunday that there is a ‘narrowing’ window to secure a truce, while vowing that it would continue to put pressure on both sides to halt the violence.

A couple embrace at the emotional vigil which was held in Hostage Square, Tel Aviv

Empty dining table seats were laid out for the vigil, which was modelled on a Hanukkah celebration

A mural calling for the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 to be brought home

Hamas has warned that no hostages would leave Gaza alive unless its demands for prisoner releases are met, with the last temporary truce seeing three Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails for every one hostage handed back. 

According to Israeli army figures, Hamas continues to hold 137 people hostage in Gaza. 

More than 18,000 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s onslaught, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. 

Source: Read Full Article