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Carrying the pain of loss on October 7, these families are pleading for peace

12:00 Nov 22 2023 Israel ( יִשְׂרָאֵל0 * دَوْلَة إِسْرَائِيل‎ )

Carrying the pain of loss on October 7, these families are pleading for peace
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Cover Photo: Pain of Loss. Published by 972Mag
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Against overwhelming calls for revenge in Israel following Hamas' assault, relatives of victims and hostages are among the loudest advocates for a full ceasefire and a new approach with the Palestinians.

by Oren Ziv and Yotam Ronen for 972Mag
November 22, 2023

Since the atrocities committed by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7, calls for revenge have echoed across the country as the Israeli army continues its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. Talk of “flattening” or “erasing” Gaza is commonplace in the media and on the street. One government minister suggested dropping an atomic bomb on the Strip; others have called for the expulsion of the enclave’s entire population; and just this week, another minister invoked Biblical battles between the Israelites and the Philistines to encourage the military to cut off Palestinian fighters’ foreskins.

Amid this cacophony of retribution, however, many family members of the victims of Hamas’ massacres and of the more than 240 people abducted to Gaza have been offering a different voice. Despite their individual and collective pain, many of them have pleaded with the Israeli government not to seek revenge in their names, and instead called for a cessation of Israel’s assault on Gaza and the prioritization of a deal to release the hostages.

Their efforts bore some fruit, at least momentarily. This morning, it was announced that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a four-day halt in hostilities that will come into effect tomorrow morning, Nov. 23, to allow 50 Israeli hostages to be exchanged for 150 Palestinian prisoners — all of them women and minors. For every 10 additional Israeli hostages released, Israel has said it will extend the truce for another day. Playing down hopes of a longer-term cessation, an IDF spokesperson stressed that this was an “operational pause” rather than a ceasefire, echoing other Israeli officials who indicated that the war is set to continue.

The families’ struggle will go on, too. Even in the most difficult moments of their lives, these relatives insist on reminding their society and their leaders that there are human beings on the other side of the fence. This may seem obvious, but in the political climate in Israel today, it is a message that is difficult for many to accept, and can even lead to arrest or accusations of treason. When this war eventually ends, there is no doubt that these family members will be a significant part of trying to build something new here — a land in which all Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and equality.

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