“This night was the most terrible of all nights. It was a long and sleepless night, against the backdrop of the major IDF operation in the Strip, and absolute uncertainty regarding the fate of the hostages held there, who were also subject to the heavy bombings,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said in a statement on Saturday.
“Anxiety, frustration, and especially enormous anger that none of the war cabinet bothered to meet with the families of the hostages to explain one thing – whether the ground operation endangers the well-being of the 229 hostages in Gaza,” they continued.
Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 23-year-old American who was wounded and kidnapped by Hamas at an Israeli music festival stated in a separate statement that the expansion of Israel’s ground operation in Gaza was “of extreme concern to us”.
“We pray for the safety and security of the Israeli soldiers on the frontlines as they begin their mission and the safety of all hostages and innocent lives. We implore all world leaders, especially of the 33 countries represented among the hostages, to take urgent and immediate action to bring all the hostages safely home. There is not a moment to waste,” they addef.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters on Friday that they had notified the families of the hostages about the expanded operations.
The Israeli military’s expansion of its ground operation in Gaza has thrown into question the fate of the more than 200 hostages who remain inside the besieged enclave.
Hamas has released a total of four hostages since its October 7 attacks, but the IDF estimates that 224 remain trapped inside Gaza.
The hostages include Israeli civilians and soldiers as well as foreign nationals and children. Among them are scores of hostages holding foreign passports from 25 different countries, including Mexico, Brazil, the United States, Germany and Thailand, according to the Israeli government.
Hamas announced it cannot release the hostages it is holding in Gaza until the Israeli military stops its bombing campaign against the Palestinian enclave.