Families of Israeli hostages urge government to ensure return of captivates

Families of those missing and taken hostage by Hamas during the October 7 attack marched from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Friday, demanding that that the government guarantee hostages are returned safely.

A large crowd walked along a highway toward Jerusalem, according to the Reuters news agency, with some people holding signs of pictures of missing people captioned “Bring them home now”.

One of the participants in the march, Shelly Shem Tov, told CNN that Hamas abducted her son. She said the march had started three days ago in Tel Aviv and that the group was on the way to Jerusalem to demand that the government “bring our families back home safely, alive”.

“This is the situation. We are 42 days from October 7. We don’t know what about our families. I don’t know (anything) about my son, if he is OK,” she continued, stating, “I know that he was kidnapped by Hamas, and from that day I don’t know anything about him.”

“It’s a nightmare. Forty-two days of nightmare,” she added.

Shem Tov said that she has heard “nothing” from the Israeli government since it told her that Hamas had kidnapped her son.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Friday that the military’s official estimate of hostages being held in Gaza is 237. The IDF has previously announced that the number can fluctuate based on updated intelligence.

ABC TV reported on Friday, citing a senior Israeli official, that a deal to release the hostages could be announced in the next two or three days. According to sources of the Reuters news agency, Hamas agreed on the general terms of a deal with Israel, under which it would release about 50 hostages in exchange for a three-day ceasefire in Gaza. However, ABC quoted an Israeli official as saying that the main stumbling block is how many hostages Hamas is ready to release. Israel insists on the release of all the children, their mothers and their families, a total of about 80 hostages while Hamas says it will release only women and small children, or about 50 people.

Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi stated on Friday no agreement on the release of at least some of the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip has been reached so far.

“So far, there is no agreement on prisoner exchange. No decision on this matter has been made at this point. But these matters are being discussed and that is why we believe that if such an agreement is reached, very many families will be able to reunite with their relatives,” he told a news conference.

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