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Families of Hamas’s hostages embark on global campaigns

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Families of Hamas’s hostages embark on global campaigns



Earlier this week, Palestinian social media accounts were filled with eulogies for the two men who kidnapped Yaffa Adar on the day of Hamas’s brutal assault on Gaza border communities last month. Adar, an 85-year-old resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, has become one of the best-remembered hostages due to a video of her abduction that her captors filmed and published on social media. Now Israeli media outlets, which reported the deaths of the two men, were claiming that the pair were not directly affiliated with the terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip – a development that could influence any deal to release the hostages.

This was the second time in one bleak and sleepless month that the Adar family had received updates about their beloved matriarch through social and traditional media. The first report, the heart-curdling affirmation that their grandmother was indeed kidnapped and taken into Gaza, came in the form of a blurry video showing the elderly Adar seated in a golf cart, covered in a pink blanket and flanked by Hamas terrorists on all sides.

A day after the attack, Adva Adar, one of Yaffa’s grandchildren, published a snapshot of the video showing her grandmother and followed by a written plea for help: “This is my grandmother! Kidnapped into the Gaza Strip with nothing standing in the way [of the abductors]. Her name is Yaffa Adar, she is 85!! My grandmother – who founded the kibbutz with her very hands, who believed in Zionism, who loved her country, which abandoned her – was kidnapped. She is probably dumped somewhere, suffering from severe pain, without medicine, without food or water, scared to death, alone. No one is talking to us, no one has any answers, all the information we have was gleaned from videos that have been spread.”

The video left no room for doubt, and soon thereafter Adar and her family were officially notified by the government that Yaffa Adar is held hostage in Gaza.

In the time that lapsed between then and now, four whole agonizing weeks passed by before they were told that Adva’s cousin Tamir Adar had been kidnapped, too. Leaving behind his wife and two children, who hid in the safe room of their home, the 38-year-old Adar, a member of the kibbutz’s emergency standby squad, set off to protect his community from the terrorists who had infiltrated that Saturday morning.

ADVA ADAR (right) embraces her grandmother, Yaffa Adar, who is held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. (credit: Adar family)

“At first we were told he was kidnapped. Then we were told that he was actually unaccounted for, that he is missing. Then we were updated again that there is a high likelihood that he had been abducted. We still have no idea what condition he is in; we don’t know whether he’s alive, dead, wounded. Nothing.”

In the interim, Adar decided that she cannot simply sit and wait. When she is not tending to her one-year-old baby daughter, she is constantly speaking to local and foreign press as well as to foreign diplomats and delegates in order to apply pressure on the international political landscape. Her hope is that these endeavors will eventually lead to the release of all 240 hostages.

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“Since the second week of the war, my family has joined forces with the headquarters of the families of the hostages. Through them we constantly give interviews and hold meetings with envoys and representatives of countries from all over the world,” she tells The Jerusalem Post in a telephone conversation from her home in a moshav in the South.

“Two days after the attack I was approached by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and asked to join a meeting with the Czech foreign minister. Last week I traveled to Paris as part of a delegation of families in order to hold diplomatic meetings and speak to the European press,” Adar shares. “We believe that the international powers have sway over Hamas, as well as over Qatar, Turkey, and Egypt, who are all assumed to play a part in the negotiations. Their support also means Israel gets diplomatic backing.

“But that’s not the only reason [it is important to do this diplomatic work and speak out]. When people hear names and numbers, it all seems very distant. But when they can connect the name to a face, to a life story, to a family, it’s harder for them to look away. I feel it each time I talk about my grandma. When people suddenly understand that this video they saw of an elderly woman on a golf cart in Gaza is Yaffa, that she has children and grandchildren, that there are things she loved to do in life – they can’t remain indifferent.”

The beginning of the military ground incursion as well as Israel’s intensifying retaliatory aerial assault on Gaza, where her grandmother and cousin are held captive, are all causes for concern. Nonetheless, Adar says she “wants to believe that the military and the political powers have the hostages at the top of their priorities. I have to believe that because I need a reason to wake up in the morning. I need to believe that they will come back home. But I don’t have any special intel. I can’t know for a fact that when Israel is bombing Gaza it isn’t hurting my family. One can only hope that they know what they’re doing and are not jeopardizing my family.”

Her real concern, Adar admits, is the passage of time. “A month in captivity is way more than a woman my grandma’s age can or should bear. This is a race against the clock. My grandma suffers from all sorts of medical conditions: Heart failure, high blood pressure, kidney problems, four prolapsed discs – which means she can hardly sit, stand, or walk. She’s not a healthy woman. Time is not on our side.”

“It’s our mission to make the world care”

The 32-year-old Liri Roman, Yarden Roman-Gat’s brother, shares Adar’s feeling that time is of the essence. This sentiment has been captured by his family in a campaign it has started in Europe and in the US, where it is using the symbol of an hourglass to remind people overseas that each passing minute could be crucial for Yarden and the rest of the hostages.

Roman, an architect by training who works in hi-tech and lives in Tel Aviv with his husband, has been staying at his parents’ home in Givatayim since the first few days after the family learned that the eldest daughter, 36-year-old Yarden, was kidnapped into Gaza. The family home has become an operation center from which the Romans are strategizing, reaching out to international figures, interviewing with the press, and setting out on diplomatic missions.

Roman, in the meantime, has been focusing most of his efforts on caring for his sister’s three-year-old daughter, Geffen, who survived an attempted kidnapping with her father, Alon.

“My brother and sister have been traveling the world, speaking to leaders and waging this campaign. I decided with a heavy heart that I won’t join them overseas for the time being, because Geffen needs to be surrounded by the people she knows and loves in order to maintain a sense of normalcy; she’s already been so traumatized,” he explains, adding that his little niece is fully aware of the horrific ordeal she and her parents had gone through. “When she plays with her toys she reenacts the scenes she has been through, and she keeps asking for mommy, whom she knows is ‘lost.’”

On October 7, Yarden, a physical therapist, was celebrating the holiday weekend in Be’eri with her partner and daughter. The trio, who previously lived on the kibbutz, had left it a month earlier due to Yarden’s concerns that it wasn’t a safe place to raise a child. They had just returned from a family trip to South Africa, a long-awaited vacation that came in the wake of the death of Yarden’s mother less than a year ago.

Yarden, Alon and Geffen were all kidnapped by terrorists and taken into a vehicle that sped toward Gaza. At the last minute and under heavy fire, the couple jumped out of the car in an attempt to escape and started running for their lives. Yarden, who had been carrying her toddler in her arms, realized that Geffen would have a better chance of surviving if Alon carried her. She handed her daughter to him and tried to hide. Alon kept running, with Geffen in his arms, until he was able to reach what he thought was a safe hiding spot. After many hours of hiding with his daughter in an open field, he came back out, walked in the direction of the kibbutz and was able to join an IDF force that was in the area. A thorough search mission led by the family in collaboration with the military in the following days made it evident that there was no trace of Yarden left behind. Since then, she has been assumed kidnapped by Hamas.

At first the family directed its diplomatic efforts mostly at Germany because Yarden holds German citizenship. In the past month it has expanded its campaign, gearing it at anyone who would listen. The campaign includes a website, an Instagram account that has amassed a large following, hundreds of interviews given to the media by Yarden’s three siblings, mass rallies in large cities such as New York and Berlin, and meetings with diplomats from all over the world.

“We’re taking matters into our own hands,” says Roman, “out of the understanding that this is an event of a scope our country was simply unprepared for. We constantly speak to officials who are well-versed in handling cases of hostages, and they all say no one was prepared to deal with the sheer amount of hostages currently held in Gaza. The rules of the game have changed; we live in a world where Hamas uploads videos of abductions on TikTok.”

Roman says his family will continue doing its best to spread Yarden’s story “because we know that public opinion influences the decisions of policy-makers. When we just began our campaign vis-à-vis Germany, we were making moves that the government wasn’t making yet. Germany is an important and influential country, and now it’s on our side. But where was the state in all of this? So we said: ‘Ok, we won’t wait.’ We literally met with anyone important who was willing to listen, because we wanted them to be better informed and much more empathic when they finally met with [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

The Roman family is also acting to keep the hostages on the minds of Israelis, too.

Asked what he would tell his sister if he could talk to her, Roman says: “I would tell her that I’m doing my best to watch over her daughter. I would tell her that her daughter is alive and well, because she [Yarden] doesn’t know that, and I imagine she must wonder all the time whether Geffen made it out alive.

“People here need to realize that it’s no one’s duty to care. It’s our mission to make the world care about the hostages,” Roman concludes.

“I feel sorry and sad for the Palestinians of Gaza because I know that Hamas doesn’t care about them. So when I approach my task of explaining to the world what happened to my sister and to the other hostages, I keep in mind that this terror organization has changed the rules of the game, and they are treating both Israeli civilians and their own people as pawns in that game.”





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IDF, security forces rescue gazelles and confiscate NIS 70,000 in West Bank raids

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IDF, security forces rescue gazelles and confiscate NIS 70,000 in West Bank raids



IDF soldiers arrested wanted individuals and confiscated over NIS 70,000 in terror funds and materials for making explosives, the IDF announced on Sunday. 

Within the Binyamin Brigade, soldiers arrested two wanted individuals and discovered six gazelles taken to a shelter. 

In Ras al-Ein, a small Arab village in northern Israel, forces arrested an agitator. In Bani Naim, Dahriya, and Dura within the Judea Division, three more wanted individuals were arrested.

Wanted individuals arrested, gazelles taken to shelter

In Beit Ummar and Sa’ir within the Etzion Division, soldiers arrested four wanted individuals.

The arrested individuals and seized combat materials have been transferred to security forces for further investigation. There were no casualties or injuries among IDF soldiers. 

IDF soldiers operating in the West Bank, June 23, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

To date, approximately 4,150 wanted individuals have been arrested since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war throughout the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, with around 1,750 linked to Hamas.





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For the second time this week: an Israeli citizen entered Kalkilya – and was murdered

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For the second time this week: an Israeli citizen entered Kalkilya – and was murdered



An Israeli citizen who entered Kalkilya on Saturday morning with his car was shot dead by local residents, according to Palestinian reports cited by Israeli media.

A large number of IDF troops entered the city after an Israeli citizen entered the city center with his vehicle was shot at around seven on Saturday morning.

The shooting was carried out on the main street, after which the vehicles were set on fire. About an hour ago, the victim was brought by a medical team of the Red Crescent to the entrance to the city. An IDF medical team pronounced the victim dead.

Photos from the scene show his car being set alight and his driver’s license being taken. Local Palestinians told Israeli media the car was torched well after the shooting.

IDF soldiers operating near Kalkilya in the West Bank, May 5, 2024. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

Kalkilya hotspot

This is the third event in Kalkilya in the last 48 hours.

On Thursday, an Israeli in his 70s was robbed and attacked. The paramedic team met him at the Eliyahu checkpoint, where he was pronounced dead.

On Friday afternoon, two Islamic Jihad operatives, who were on their way to carry out a terror attack against Israelis, were eliminated by the IDF in Qalqilya.

The operation was carried out after the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) gathered intelligence that the two intended to carry out an attack soon.

As a result, the soldiers of the police’s Gideon unit were rushed to the area. After identifying the two, they started an arrest procedure, at the end of which they fired at the two terrorists.





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Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, foreign ministry announces

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Armenia recognizes Palestine as a state, foreign ministry announces



Armenia recognized Palestine as a state on Friday morning, according to Russian TASS news agency, citing Armenia’s foreign affairs ministry. 

Armenia supports a UN resolution on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and is in favor of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the same statement said.

Indeed, Armenia remained notably silent after the October 7 massacre. It became vocal only three weeks later when the United Nations General Assembly put forth a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. Armenia was one of the 121 countries which voted in favor.

Armenia has become more and more closely associated with Iran in recent years amid the rising tensions with Azerbaijan. Several sources reported 2023 spotting Iranian soldiers on the Armenian side of the border with Azerbaijan. 

According to French reports, Iran sent agents to Yerevan to manage the Blue Mosque, which was built in Armenia during Iran’s rule.

A protester holds up a Palestinian flag as riot police stand guard near the Israel Embassy during a demonstration in support of Palestinians, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Mexico City, Mexico May 28, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/HENRY ROMERO)

Iran and Israel have been consistently opposed, with Iran attacking Israel in a massive bombardment of rockets and missiles in April.

In addition, Armenia is an observer state of the Arab League. Palestine is recognized as a member state in said league.

Antisemitism has been rampant in Armenia since the war broke out, as well, with Jewish communities in the region fearful and having been attacked several times.

Reuters contributed to this report.





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