Hostage families attempt to block aid to Gaza at Kerem Shalom, are stopped

Families say humanitarian aid should be stopped until hostages freed; say soldiers, police who stop them, share their pain having lost friends and family too
Families of hostages held by Hamas on Tuesday Tuesday morning attempted to reach the Kerem Shalom crossing, adjacent to the Egyptian border to prevent aid trucks from moving into Gaza, but were promptly stopped by police. They said their action was prompted by their frustration at the inaction of the government to bring about their loved one's release.
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They said that the captives were held in subterranean tunnels, suffering from a shortage of food, water and air, while aid trucks were making their way into the enclave to help Palestinian civilians.
Police stop march on route to Kerem Shalom
(Video: Tomer Shonam Halevy)
The march set out from Kibbutz Magen, a stone throw away from Kibbutz Nir Oz, due west toward Kerem Shalom. Since that area has been closed for civilian movement since the war began, police halted their advance on route 232. Families, however, vowed they woult try again in the next few days until all aid trucks are stopped or their loves ones are released, whichever comes first.

Aid for aid

"It's time to stop this joke. They will come back to us in 136 coffins, said Ayala whose relative Yoram Metzger was among the hostages. "Is this how Israel sees victory? 136 coffins? What will I tell my children. Yoram is 80 years old. Who knows how much longer he can hold on? The average time of captivity in Auschwitz was 3-4 months. Only god knows how much longer he'll survive."
Niva Wenkert, mother of Omer who is among the 136, said the police and military troops who stopped them shared the same fate with the families. "They too have a friend held hostage and the state of Israel has sent them over to stifle our cry. Out protest is just," she said. "If humanitarian aid is entering Gaza, my son and the other hostages also require humanitarian aid. Our demand is legitimate - Aid for aid. My son needs his medication. I'm a concerned mother. I don't have the option of getting his medicine to him. We as a country must look out for our own."
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שיירה של משפחות חטופים בדכם לכרם שלום
שיירה של משפחות חטופים בדכם לכרם שלום
Police speaking to the families
Omer's father, Shay, added: "He has neither seen a Doctor nor received medication. It's unfathomable that while this is happening, aid trucks enter Gaza undisturbed."
Among the 136 hostages is Avinatan Or, whose sister, Yehudit Mevorach, was among the marchers. "He's been subjected to gruesome conditions for 93 days. It is unacceptable for the State of Israel to send its soldiers into battle, risking their lives to fight against a merciless enemy without any compassion. This becomes even more evident on difficult mornings when we learn of more fallen soldiers. On the other hand, while we have our own captives, we continue to provide assistance, fuel, and aid to the strip, indirectly supporting their fight against us.
"It is evident that if we halt all supplies, preventing the entry of fuel, water, and any form of assistance, within five days, we would witness the return of all captives to their homes, resting peacefully in their own beds. The country should cease providing aid and convey a clear message to Hamas: as long as the captives are not safely back in their own homes, we will continue with an additional two weeks of siege.
"Each day, leaflets should be distributed to residents, informing them that according to Hamas' decision, the blockade on Gaza will persist for two more weeks. No other country in the world would engage in combat against such a merciless and heartless enemy while simultaneously providing them with assistance. If the United States or any European country were in our position, they would not offer the slightest aid."
Knesset member Michal Waldiger from the Religious Zionism party accompanied the march. "I'm here with citizens and friends of the hostages to clearly say - Aid for aid. We should've heeded the words of Hadar Goldin's family (IDF soldier whose body was taken by Hamas in 2014 and held in Gaza), she said. " I ask myself why put the families in a position of breaking the law?"
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שיירה של משפחות חטופים בדכם לכרם שלום
שיירה של משפחות חטופים בדכם לכרם שלום
Families displaying the signs demanding the return of their loved ones
As for being the sole representative from Netanyahu's coalition to take part in the march, she said: "There is a wide variety of opinions and outlooks within the coalition. I'm here to express mine, and I'm not the only one. Israel needs to convey that message to the United States, our closest friend. There are citizens in the state of Israel and they're the ones that matter. We will not aid out bitter enemies, and we will insist on no more aid to the Palestinian Authority."

Hostage families demand cabinet meeting to discuss the day after

Hostage families, however, were not confining their steps to marches, as several of them have already flown to Qatar and met with the Qatari Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim At Thani.
Among them was Alon Nimrodi, father of Tamir and Robbie Hen, Itay's father. After the meeting, the two voiced "cautious optimism": "I think the mere fact we were invited is a testament to their will to understand not only Israel's perspective, but that of the families as well," Robbin Hen told Ynet Live. "They were very interested in hearing our personal stories and what we've been going through. This is an achievement in and of itself."
How invested is the Israeli side regarding the messages you bring from Qatar and the German Foreign Minister? Nimrodi: "The German Foreign Minister is very interested in helping. I think they take at least some of the things we wanted to convey and want to do something about it."
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Qatari Prime Minister met with hostage families
Qatari Prime Minister met with hostage families
Qatari Prime Minister met with hostage families
(Photo: gettimages)
Hen: "We're Israeli emissaries and are asked to apply pressure on anyone possible, whether it's governments or various organizations. We will meet anyone anywhere."
What did the Qatari Premier say? What message did he have? Hen: "It was a private meeting and would like to keep it as such. I can say we've spoken about the importance of looking to history regarding how solve such conflicts, and a military solution has seldom proven to be effective. It's important to speak of the diplomatic component that speaks of the day after. Our immediate demand of Prime Minister Netanyahu is to arrange a cabinet meeting where the day after will be the prime topic of discussion."
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