Families in Israel and Abroad Await News of Loved Ones Held Hostage by Militants

by Ryan Lee
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Hostage Crisis

The anguish of families in Israel and around the world deepens as they anxiously await any word regarding their loved ones who have been taken hostage by Hamas militants. Among the captives is a grandmother who had taken the initiative to learn Arabic with the hope of fostering connections with her neighbors. The group also includes ten members of an extended family, one of whom is an elderly man confined to a wheelchair and in need of hospital care. Another is a dedicated nurse who, over the years, has delivered thousands of babies to both Israeli and Palestinian parents.

Approximately 150 individuals were abducted during sweeping raids by Hamas militants early on a Saturday morning in Israeli towns and villages near the heavily fortified Gaza Strip border. These hostages come from diverse national backgrounds, including Brazil, Britain, Italy, the Philippines, the United States, and, of course, many Israelis. It is important to note that the exact number of hostages, as reported by both Hamas and Israeli officials, has not yet been independently verified.

The militants have issued a chilling ultimatum, threatening to harm the hostages if Israel conducts airstrikes targeting civilians in Gaza without prior warning to allow them to escape. This dire situation has left the families and friends of the captives in a state of terror and desperation, with few options but to endure the agonizing wait.

Noam Sagi, a psychotherapist residing in London, is deeply concerned about his mother, Ada, who is due to celebrate her 75th birthday next week and is believed to be among the hostages. He last heard from her on that fateful Saturday morning when she called from a panic room at Kibbutz Nir Oz, a communal settlement located near the southeastern Gaza border.

Ada Sagi, the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Poland, was born in Israel in 1948. As a member of a kibbutz founded on the principles of equality and humanity, she dedicated herself to learning Arabic and teaching it to others in southern Israel, aiming to improve communication and foster better relations with neighboring Palestinians. Noam Sagi hopes his mother’s proficiency in the language might aid her in negotiating with the captors, but her severe allergies and recent hip replacement surgery add to his profound worry.

“My only hope now is for humanity to act so that I can see my mother again and my son can see his grandmother again,” Sagi stated solemnly.

Nir Oz is also home to Sagui Dekel-Chen, a 35-year-old married father of two daughters who is eagerly awaiting the birth of his third child. Neighbors report that he valiantly defended against the militants who invaded the kibbutz, but his whereabouts have remained unknown since. Jonathan Dekel-Chen, his father, shared this distressing news at a press conference in Tel Aviv, where he appealed to the U.S. government to help rescue the hostages.

Rachel Goldberg recounted the harrowing story of her son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, born in Berkeley, California, who was saving money to explore the world. Hersh was attending a music festival where tragedy struck, resulting in the loss of at least 260 young lives. When militants threw grenades into the shelter where a group of festivalgoers had sought refuge, Hersh, alongside a friend, heroically tried to protect others by tossing the grenades outside. In the ensuing struggle, he lost an arm. His mother received two heart-wrenching texts from him before all communication ceased: “I love you” and, moments later, “I’m sorry.”

Adrienne Neta, born in California and residing in Israel since 1981, spent her career as a nurse and midwife, caring for patients without consideration of their race or religion. When militants stormed her home in Kibbutz Be’eri, where at least 100 people were later found deceased, she managed to make a frantic call to her family before the line abruptly went silent. Her son Nahar Neta remains cautiously optimistic, hoping that she is being held captive rather than having suffered a worse fate.

Among those presumed to have been taken hostage is a family with dual Italian and U.S. citizenship residing in the southern Israeli community of Be’eri. Eviatar Moshe Kipnis, 65, and Lilach Lea Havron, 60, along with their healthcare aide, were last heard from while taking shelter in their safe room after the militants began their attack. Nadav Kipnis, their son, revealed that eight members of Havron’s family are also unaccounted for, including three children. The family’s fears are amplified by the fact that none of the bodies have been recovered, and some of their cell phones have been traced to Gaza. Of particular concern is Eviatar Moshe Kipnis, who relies on a wheelchair, multiple daily medications, and frequent hospital care due to a severe autoimmune condition.

Italy’s foreign minister has traveled to Egypt to seek regional Arab support in the efforts to secure the release of hostages, including Kipnis’ parents and family. For now, all the families have to cling to are the messages and videos contained in a chilling group chat among Be’eri residents, where the horrifying events unfolded in real-time as militants systematically combed through their homes, at times resorting to arson to force people from their safe rooms. The messages recounted people leaping from windows due to smoke-filled safe rooms, injuries sustained while fleeing, and individuals being forcibly removed from their homes by terrorists. It is a nightmarish ordeal that those who were not present can scarcely fathom.

Contributors: Kirka (London), Nicole Winfield (Rome)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hostage Crisis

Q: What is the background of the hostage situation mentioned in the text?

A: The text discusses a hostage crisis involving roughly 150 individuals who were abducted by Hamas militants during raids on Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza Strip border. The hostages come from various national backgrounds, and their capture has created a distressing situation for their families.

Q: Who are some of the individuals taken hostage, and why is their situation particularly concerning?

A: Among those taken hostage are a grandmother who learned Arabic to build bridges with her neighbors, an elderly man in a wheelchair requiring hospital care, a nurse who delivered babies to both Israeli and Palestinian parents, and others from diverse backgrounds. Their situations are concerning due to the threat by militants to harm the hostages if Israel conducts airstrikes without prior warnings.

Q: What are the challenges faced by the families and friends of the hostages?

A: The families and friends of the hostages are in a state of terror and desperation as they await news about their loved ones. The uncertainty of their well-being and the militants’ threats have left them with very few options but to endure this agonizing wait.

Q: Are there any efforts being made to secure the release of the hostages?

A: Yes, there are international efforts, including Italy’s foreign minister seeking regional Arab support to liberate the hostages, which includes individuals with Italian and U.S. citizenship. The families are appealing for assistance, but their main source of information is a group chat among residents describing the horrific events as they unfolded.

Q: What are some of the personal stories mentioned in the text?

A: The text highlights the stories of specific individuals, such as Noam Sagi’s concern for his mother, Ada, who is among the hostages, and Hersh Goldberg-Polin’s heroic actions during a music festival that led to his capture. It also mentions the dedication of individuals like Adrienne Neta, a nurse and midwife, who called her family as militants stormed her home. Additionally, there is the plight of Eviatar Moshe Kipnis and Lilach Lea Havron, a family with dual Italian and U.S. citizenship, who were last heard from in their safe room during the attack.

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