Hostage families have tense meeting with War Cabinet, say Netanyahu 'detached' from their concerns

Families of hostages and freed captives described in great detail what happens to those being held by Hamas; 'Terrified that it would not be Hamas, but Israel, that would kill us'
Recordings from the tense meeting, which involved the hostages, their families, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other members of the War Cabinet, reveal shocking evidence from the Gaza Strip. They also capture the anger of those already released from Hamas captivity, as well as their relatives, at Netanyahu's conduct.
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One person who attended the meeting shared a letter from her own daughter who was also a former hostage; the horrific details it contained were disturbing. Throughout the meeting, there were demands for the cabinet members to promptly publicize the accounts of what all those held captive had endured.
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מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
War Cabinet meets with families
A former captive from Kibbutz Nir Oz, who was recently released as part of the deal, said: "I experienced captivity and I understand its hardships. Every day in captivity was extremely challenging. We were in tunnels, terrified that it would not be Hamas, but Israel, that would kill us, and then they would say Hamas killed you. So, I strongly urge that the prisoner exchange begins as soon as possible and everyone needs to return home. There should be no hierarchy. Everyone is equally important."
Another former hostage who returned with her children, but whose husband remains in Hamas captivity, said: "We felt as though no one was doing anything for us. The reality is that I was in a hideout that was bombed and we became wounded refugees. This doesn't even include the helicopter that fired at us on our way to Gaza. You claim there is intelligence, but the reality is that we were being bombed. My husband was separated from us three days before we returned to Israel and was taken to the tunnels. And you're talking about flooding the tunnels with seawater? You are bombing tunnel routes exactly where they are located. My daughters ask me where their father is, and I have to tell them that the bad guys still don't want to release him."
A relative of a hostage told the War Cabinet: "We are running out of time. You don't comprehend the enormity of our tragedy. We are completely drained. We haven't slept for months. We are relying on medication. Take a stand and rescue these people."
Netanyahu responded to the families and former hostages. "I came with my colleagues to hear you out. There is still much darkness to dispel, and everyone must be brought back. I have heard the fear, the humiliation, the suffering, the torture and the abuse. This has shaken the entire world, and it's crucial to continue speaking out. It's important that we are heard. You are correct: There is a substantial effort to gather evidence and reach everyone. The question is how to bring everyone back," he said.
At this point, several family members of the captives shouted "Shame" at Netanyahu. In reply, Netanyahu said, "The dog tag you gave me is next to my bed, it's in my heart." When a father accused him of not wearing it around his neck out of shame, Netanyahu firmly responded: "Absolutely not." Another parent of a hostage said of Netanyahu:"He hasn't heard for 60 days."
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מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
מפגש משפחות החטופים עם קבינט המלחמה
Hostage families leave the meeting
(Photo: Dor Pezuelo)
Netanyahu also told the families: "You raised two points, and I can address them. One in a calmer manner and the other more vaguely, and success requires that I do this. The first thing you asked is whether we have the ability to bring everyone back at once. It's important to know, and my colleagues can confirm this, that this capability did not exist. Until we initiated the ground invasion, there was nothing. Nothing, nada, zero. Just talk."
"The Qataris spoke, others spoke, so much useless talking. It was only when we began the ground invasion that the pressure began to work on Hamas, creating the possibility to bring out hostages. We managed to expand the list and with the assistance of President Biden, whom we engaged in the matter. We were prepared to bring out more in this format. There were more. The ones who halted this format was Hamas, not us," Netanyahu said.
A relative of a captive responded with "Nonsense." Netanyahu countered: "It's not nonsense. What I'm stating here are clear facts. I hold too much respect for you. I hear your anguish. We couldn't bring everyone out at once. The price they seek is not just prisoners. It's not solely about the prisoners. And if there's an opportunity to bring everyone out at once, do you think anyone here would disagree? Would any of my colleagues here disagree? They would wholeheartedly agree."
"The second matter you raised, which is distressing, is hearing about the ordeals you endured with our bombings and military operations, those of the IDF, and it continues. It's true. I find it deeply saddening. I can assure you that it's not just saddening, as my colleagues will affirm, it also influences their operational considerations. And if you intended to convey this message, you have succeeded."
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview on Bloomberg News on Sunday
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview on Bloomberg News on Sunday
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he seemed 'detached'
(Photo: Screenshot)
Ben Danzig from Kibbutz Nir Oz also criticized the members of the War Cabinet. "You are lacking responsibility and are heartless. Saving one life is as if you've saved the entire world. I want to tell you, Benjamin Netanyahu, that after my 71-year-old mother, an immigrant from Morocco, saved my little daughter, she clung to the safe room door handle for nine hours. Where were the soldiers to protect us, Mr. Gallant? We have a right to live, so the least you can do is rescue the hostages in Gaza, and sooner rather than later would be better."

Following the meeting

According to testimonies of those present, they were clearly displeased with the prime minister's answers and tone. One of the individuals who was previously held captive in Gaza, and later attended a meeting with the War Cabinet at the Air Force House in Herzliya, relayed her experience after the meeting. She described their time in captivity, saying that "bombs from an aircraft were detonating above us, yet the Hamas members continued to sleep. The bombings didn't seem to disturb them."
She went on to share her impressions of the meeting, stating that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "didn't respond to the questions that were posed - instead, he read from prepared remarks on a piece of paper." She further noted that "Netanyahu stated that it wasn't feasible to bring everyone back, and questioned whether any of us thought that if such an opportunity was available, anyone would reject it."
Attendees shared further details. One said that "(Defense Minister Yoav) Gallant informed us that Hamas only responds to the use of force, insinuating that any cessation in the hostage release stages was purely Hamas' decision. The discussions were truly distressing, and those who attended were visibly upset about the divisions made between various groups and categories. Netanyahu's reply was curt, and he seemed detached from the conversation."
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