Portada » Walking from the gates of Gaza to Jerusalem to demand the release of the hostages | International

Walking from the gates of Gaza to Jerusalem to demand the release of the hostages | International

by Isabella Walker
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The aim is to fill a street near the sites of the Hamas massacre on 7 October with life. About a hundred relatives and acquaintances of the over 100 hostages still seized in Gaza set off on foot on Wednesday morning from near the border with the Strip towards Jerusalem. The four-day march is part of a new push against the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They want Israel to prioritize a deal with Hamas so their loved ones can return home, before military operations on Palestinian soil.

Gadi Moses will turn 80 on March 12. On the 145th day of his imprisonment, his son Oded is one of those who head on Highway 232, which climbs north parallel to the fence that separates Israel from the Palestinian enclave. “We must reach an agreement with the enemies because the hostages will only return through political means”, he understands. On that asphalt on which they are advancing, the wounds of the Hamas attack are still visible, which killed around 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 in this area.

This was the trigger for a war in which Israel, in retaliation, has already killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Oded, who walks with his father’s image printed on his black T-shirt, is convinced that the Israeli authorities have the ability to stop the military operation, reach an agreement and then put an end to Hamas. This is how, after 49 days, her mother, Margalit Moses, 77, kidnapped like Gadi in Kibbutz Nir Oz, was freed. The parties agreed to a ceasefire that lasted into the last week of November and saw the return of 105 hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. Now they are trying to get a second break in the war with weeks-long negotiations.

Relatives of the more than 130 hostages kidnapped today in Gaza began a four-day march from Reim, a town near the border of the Strip where Hamas killed more than 200 people on October 7, towards Jerusalem.Luis de Vega

The organizers of the march, who had organized a similar one from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in November, chose one of the scenes of the barbarism of October 7 as their starting point. This is where the Nova festival was held, near Kibbutz Reim, and where Palestinian Islamists killed 360 people. Hundreds of messages, photos, personal objects, candles, altars, flowers, flags… remember the victims of the tragedy. Some are among the more than 134 hostages still in Gaza, although authorities estimate that around thirty have already died. “RIP Elia,” is written on the trunk of a tree next to a fractured red heart and the date of the massacre.

“United for the liberation of the hostages” is the motto with which they will walk until Saturday, explains Ronen Neutra, father of Omer Neutra, one of the kidnapped, before leaving. Every day they will complete a stage of between 15 and 20 kilometres. It is a march for “hope” so that no one is left behind, “the living and the murdered”, he adds. They understand that the entire Netanyahu-led government is “responsible” for ensuring that this agreement includes everyone, indirectly referring to people of all ages and conditions, since military personnel have also been captured. Like Ronen, the vast majority of participants wear T-shirts or posters raised on wooden poles with photos of their loved ones.

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Ziv and Gali Berman, 26-year-old twins abducted from Kibbutz Kafar Azza, share one of those posters. It is in the hands of Macabit Mayer, their aunt, who advances, lifting them so that they can see each other clearly. “They must be released through an agreement. We fear that if the army went to save them it would be dangerous,” she comments in the company of her brother Nir Sobol. So far only two civilians have been freed by the army in Gaza. It happened last February 12 in an unprecedented operation carried out in Rafah, in the south. Some of the hostages had already lost their lives in failed liberation attempts in other areas of the Strip. Israeli troops also killed three of the abducted people while waving a white flag. “We hope that things will be developed (by the government) behind closed doors. We have to trust them, we have no choice,” says Macabit Mayer.

But there are sectors of the Israeli government and society that, regardless of the abductees, defend a military operation relentlessly. “They are family. For me the only way is agreement. We fear for their lives. What I ask others is to put themselves in my place. My only answer is that they think it was their own family. “His son, mother, father, grandmother…” explains Ziv’s aunt and Gali Berman, who were well at the end of November, according to some of the hostages from their kibbutz who were freed at the time.

Several police officers look at a panel with photos of the victims at the Nova festival before accompanying the hostages’ relatives as they leave the procession.Luis de Vega

“The goal of all this is to achieve peace with enemies. We have to live with them,” defends Oded Moses. “Years ago we were already at war with Egypt and Jordan and now we are more or less fine. I think this is what we need to do with the Palestinians, although not with Hamas, which is a terrorist group and has nothing to do with the desire of the Palestinians to have a state”, he concludes. Moses remains optimistic for the liberation of his mother and for the video that the Palestinian Islamic group Islamic Jihad made public on December 19 in which his father appears together with another hostage denouncing the “unbearable” conditions of prison and calling on Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders to take action.

The group leaves in the direction of Sderot. Saroo, 27, has no family in Gaza, but decided to reach Jerusalem barefoot. Hadar Norany, 39, is also walking, accompanied by a poster with the photo of her friend and collaborator of a veterinary center Doron Steinbrecher, 31, who appeared a month ago in a video released by Hamas. They are all accompanied by support vehicles and a group of soldiers. Some police cars were left behind, cutting and directing traffic.

Before continuing in her car, officer Betty Perez tells the journalist where to continue. She realizes that he is Spanish and jumps. “You have before you a Flemish and Camarónian Israeli police,” shouts in Spanish this 37-year-old woman, with Moroccan Jewish ancestors who moved to Catalonia, who declares herself a fan of Camarón de la Isla. she has the same tattoo as the singer, with a star and a crescent. “Many here believe it’s a political tattoo, but no, it’s in honor of her.”

A moment of the march of the relatives of the hostages who remained seized in Gaza.Luis de Vega

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