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Israel-Hamas War: Rallies Mark 6 Months Of War With Demand For Release Of Hostages

Aviva Siegel joined her daughter and thousands of protesters who were marching in Washington, New York and Jerusalem, trying to bring the focus back on hostages like herself. Her home in Kfar Aza was attacked by Hamas on October 7, 2023 and she, along with her husband were taken to Gaza where they were held captive. She was among 250 plus hostages taken to Gaza on the day Israel saw its worst attack in decades. She was released after 51 days in captivity but there’s no news on her husband’s whereabouts or his well-being.

As protesters shouted slogans of ‘Bring them home now,’ Aviva Siegel addressed the rally in Washington. “I was tortured, I was threatened and I was thirsty. I had no human rights. I felt like nothing,” she said. She returned home in November when more than 100 hostages were released by Hamas as a part of a negotiated ceasefire. But there’s been little progress on arriving at any such deal since then. That’s eating into the hopes that families like theirs have tried very hard to hold on to. “Since I know every day that my father is still there, everything that I do, everything that I eat, every moment that I have – a quiet moment – I feel guilt. I feel like I’m not, I don’t know how to live in this, like, knowing that he doesn’t eat,” says Elan Siegel, Aviva’s daughter.

Hadas Zubari, aunt of hostage Naama Levy, marched in Jerusalem. “We’re here today because we want everybody to be aware that this is still happening and we’re still hoping that it’s, a solution will be like (in) any minute. We don’t have time. (19-year-old Israeli hostage) Naama (Levy) has no time.”

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It’s been six months since the October 7 attacks and counter-offensive by Israel that followed soon after. An estimated 130 hostages are still in Gaza, including foreign nationals.

Yair Keshet, a resident of Kfar Saba, who also took part in the rally in Jerusalem, expressed the frustration felt even by those whose loved ones are not in captivity. “Right now, it’s 184 days in captivity. It can’t be.”

Negotiations for a deal continue in Egypt but for families of the hostages, that’s cold comfort since no hostages have been released after the brief truce that was worked out in November.